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The Vanishing strike

November 6, 2007 10:00 by

Arabtec, strike

It is one of Dubai’s flagship developments, being carried out by one of the city’s most ambitious companies and will create an iconic image for the Gulf. So when work grinds to a halt as workers demand an increase in pay you might expect the local news to take an interest?

Yes, and then no. Arabian Business yesterday reported workers on the Burj Dubai were striking for the sixth day running. The 3,000 Arabtec-contracted laborers were refusing to leave their camps and work on the world’s tallest building had ground to halt. This morning, AB has pulled the story, and there is no mention in any of the other local media.

According to AP reports it appears the strike action is far larger than even AB was prepared to admit: some 40,000 Arabtec workers are involved, and they’re asking for an extra $55 a month, up from a current $109. To put that in context, the Burj’s Armani residences, on sale last week, start at $2,500 per square foot.

The strike action is a test for many people. The workers, certainly, and the individual contractors and developers. It will also test the UAE government, both in terms of managing the economy and its international reputation. And it also tests the local media. This is the biggest news story to hit one of the biggest industries in what Mastercard this week claimed to be the Middle East’s center of commerce. It will be interesting to see how diligently the local media tracks this story.

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