Saturday, December 10, 2005

Contractors to invest in first 'luxury' labour camp :: Construction Week

Construction Week has learned that other developers are also drawing up plans to build similar new camps in anticipation of a licensing scheme covering the sector.

The US $27 million (AED100 million) development will offer high quality facilities, cleaning services and security to site workers — in stark contrast to the squalid accommodation typically associated with labour camps in the Gulf.

The site has been chosen to service several mega-projects in close proximity. Contractors will be able to invest in 99 year leases and the minimum investment will be for nine rooms.
. . .
Abu Dhabi are also drawing up plans for a new generation of labour camps designed to service the expected surge in construction activity within the emirate over the next five years.

“We have been approached by several developers and quasi governmental organisations looking at the feasibility of developing housing compounds that enhance human rights for lower paid workers,” said Simon Townsend, director, CBRE.
. . .
The acute shortage of labour accommodation in Dubai has pushed up rents and forced contractors to cram more workers into dormitory-style accommodation.

CW recently uncovered a family-sized villa in the Dubai suburb of Satwa where 87 Indian construction workers had been forced to live.
Emphasis added.

Not sure "forced" is the proper term in either of the last two sentences. Contractors choose to cram workers into dormitory-style accomodation. At the same time there is plenty of evidence of workers choosing to poorer accomodation when the alternative is one that involves a longer commute, or more money out of their pocket.


Blogger Keefieboy said...

You imply that laborers have some kind of choice about where they live. They don't. If you work for a big construction company, you live where the company tells you to. This is part of your remuneration package. There is no accommodation allowance offered as an alternative and your salary certainly will not stretch to you doing your own thing.

5:14 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...


Yes, but amongst lower wage workers who do have a choice there is evidence that they prefer crowding to losing working/earning time due to commuting. Thus, I am extrapolating from their behavior to predict how those without choice would choose.

Consider it another way: Why don't companies lower salaries and improve living conditions if not for the reason that the workers prefer the money.

It's not clear that if the government mandated improved living conditions that the workers would be better off - salaries would go down.

Perhaps the government should mandate living conditions and salaries, in effect turning a low-wage job in the UAE into a lottery (because it would be so much more attractive to work here than in many countries that the odds of getting a job here would be low).

The trouble then might be that recruiters would be able to demand even higher job finding fees than they already are able to command.

I end up then, back at one of my main themes in this blog: the biggest problem is with employers who do not fulfill the promises they make to their employees. That is, the problem is with enforceability of contracts.

5:35 PM  

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