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Arabtec workers: strike will continue

Workers - illustrative purposes only

Employees say no promises for higher wages have yet been made.

May 21, 2013 11:57 by

Despite public labour protests being a relatively rare occurrence in gulf countries – and particularly the United Arab Emirates – Arabtec, often touted as Dubai’s largest construction company, has had its fair share of them. In 2007, approximately 30,000 went on a 10-day strike demanding salary increases. In 2011, 70 workers were arrested on charges of instigating a 3,000-man protest over wages.

This year, and more specifically since Saturday, ‘thousands’ of workers went on a two-day strike – involving employees in Dubai and Abu Dhabi refusing to leave their accommodation premises. According to most reports, Arabtec’s workers earn between Dh650 to Dh1200 per month and they’re requesting for an additional Dh250 a month to help support their families back home.

In an official statement, Arabtec said they are working with the Ministry of Labour and police to resolve the situation “as quickly as possible”, yet there are mixed reports concerning the latest situation.

Gulf News has reported that on Tuesday, workers returned back to their normal routine after being promised their issues will be looked into, if not completely resolved. On the other hand, today’s report by 7days suggests an almost entirely different scenario.

Workers told the local paper that they vowed to continue this strike until their demands are met. One worker said that he, along with several of his colleagues, plan on having a meeting with the supervisor and listening to what he has to say. “If we do not get our increase the strike will continue,” he added. Other reports suggest that their demands were rejected and the workers had no choice but to return to work.

The argument of the workers’ wages being low, according to the report, is that meals are provided. The counterargument, according to several workers, is that they’d rather have more money to send home then have meals provided for them.

The company promises its projects delivery schedule will not be affected by the action and that the labour dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, but yet – according to Reuters – two employees said other workers continue to observe the stoppage and no promises on wage hikes have been made.

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