Saturday, April 29, 2006

Gulfnews: Don't shoot the messengers

Bravo, Gulf News:
The recent demonstrations and violence by some labourers in the UAE are alarming and disturbing. They are alarming in that workers have thought it necessary to take recourse to such action. They are disturbing because there are many people officials and media alike apparently in denial that the strikes are spontaneous and motivated by a desire to achieve better [not necessarily better, than promised - JBC] working conditions and pay.

Accusations are being made that a "selfish few" are geared to destroying the good name of Dubai, but it may hold good in only a few cases. For there are too many instances where workers have found it necessary to make representations to the labour ministry or their embassies in an attempt to get what are their undeniable rights.

If an employer is contracted to provide salary, food and accommodation to the workers, then that is what should be provided at a reasonable standard. Expecting labourers, after toiling in the sun for most of the day, to return to their inferior accommodation and be given inadequate meals, and then keep them waiting several months for their pay, is inhuman. And it is only right that the workers should complain.
Read the whole thing.

Just the other day the Gulf News printed a guest op-ed that did display denial. I concluded GN allowed this into print to show the alarming degree of denial that exists. Secret Dubai was suitably alarmed and feared GN had lost its moral compass. Even the right-of-center Tim Newman came out on the side of labor on this one; that's not hard for us right-of-center types to do when the issue is the ability to freely contract. Several UAE community blog denizens also figured something was fishy about the guest op-ed at GN.

I conclude whatever caused the aberration, GN is back on track. Just look at the coverage today:
Protesting labourers still baulk
New workers to replace protesting staff
Facts and figures
Labour protests in 2005

Labour needs laws. And fast
Standing on the shoulders of giants
UAE labour shortage on the horizon?
The organisations and how they responded
Gulf News does not look to me like a newspaper that has lost its nerve.


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