Labor issues turning legal
The Dubai police chief has said that some companies are currently in court for violating accommodation regulations for laborers.
May 12, 2009 11:17 by Aarti Nagraj
The head of Dubai police has said that problems regarding labor accommodation in Dubai are being tackled vigorously by the government, and that strict action is also being taken against companies who are violating the rules.
Only a few are violating the rules, said lieutenant general Dahi Khalfan Tamim, chief of Dubai Police. “Companies are already in court,” he told Kipp at the Arab media Forum.
The UAE labor ministry has implemented several measures to protect expatriate laborers in the country, with special reference to their living conditions. Although the state of labor camps is not a new issue, it gained particular spotlight after a documentary by BBC Panorama which accused Dubai’s camps of being unhygienic and cramped.
The government quickly began to tidy up its act – it said that the labor ministry was developing a ‘Decent Work Country Program’ with the International Labor Organization; it restricted the number of laborers who can live in one room, and most recently, it ordered temporary accommodation on construction sites to shut down.
Last month, Tamim gave directives to municipalities and labor ministry officials in various emirates to “guarantee cleanliness of labor housing.” Speaking at a meeting of the leaders of labor crises management teams, Tamim said it was important to ensure “adequate standards of cleanliness and safety” in labor camps and penalize any violations. He also stressed the need for field inspections and periodic reports.
He said that owners of private firms had to guarantee their workers a “life in dignity” by meeting their rights.
The UAE has said that they are building a development to house 32,000 workers in Al Gharbia in Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled for completion in 2011. Meanwhile, Tamim explained on Monday that the government is also providing temporary accommodation for more than 140 illegal laborers in the country.
“Everything is under control,” he told Kipp.
While the country has been announcing changes, it is interesting to note that they have also started taking action against violators. While we don’t have the names of the companies who are in court, the fact that they in that position will hopefully force other firms to provide better living conditions to their workers.