Good for Abu Dhabi
Businesses may be wining, but tough luck. Abu Dhabi’s forceful stance on new accommodation for laborers deserves praise. Are you watching, Dubai?
September 19, 2010 3:07 by Samuel Potter
It’s rare to be able to think of or mention the poor laborers in this country without feeling guilt. Most are working in tough conditions very far from home for very poor pay, and through their labors more than any other the UAE has been able to turn itself into a modern country boasting two major world cities. So it is right and proper that the UAE should do everything in its power to ensure these men have safety in the work place and acceptable standard of living away from it.
Credit is due, then, to Abu Dhabi, which is beginning to strictly enforce its new plan to move hundreds of thousands of workers to newer, better accommodation. More than 50,000 workers have been moved already, according to reports, to new locations boasting more space and better facilities, such as laundries, kitchens (providing meals for all) and recreation facilities.
But according to the National, companies are griping about the new costs of the accommodation. As a result, take up of the new accommodation was slow, until the government threatened to revoke work visas for companies that didn’t comply.
Good for Abu Dhabi, says Kipp. These companies are complaining because of the sudden new expense, but the truth is the jump in cost is so high because the laborers have, until now, been inadequately treated. Few will have sympathy with any of these businesses, who will no doubt be passing the costs on somehow anyway.
We know the situation is not perfect. The new accommodations are generally a long way from the facilities of a city center, with little transport provided. There is no guarantee the employers won’t try to recoup some of their extra expenditure by docking pay packets (we hope fervently that the Abu Dhabi government is watching for this). And the number of beds available is currently only a fraction of what is required.
But overall, the rhetoric is right, the sentiment is right, the actions are welcome, and the future finally looks better for the workers. In a part of the world where talk is so often cheap and deeds so often fail to match words, Kipp is ready to celebrate Abu Dhabi’s action.
Are you watching, Dubai?