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Ministry of Labor: the pressure’s on
The ministry is overwhelmed with complaints by people who’ve been fired
December 28, 2008 12:30 by Dana El Baltaji
As companies in Dubai announce thousands of layoffs as a result of the economic crisis, Ministry of Labor officials in the emirate are struggling to deal with an unprecedented number of complaints they receive every day.
From a CEO of a company earning a salary of more than AED100,000 per month to a construction worker with an income of AED700, the numbers of laborer complaints have tripled since the beginning of November.
No accurate figures of the number of layoffs or complaints are available, as the Ministry of Labor has not released any official figures. But a visit to the ministry’s office revealed long queues of workers who had lost their jobs or had not been paid for the past few months.
An official from the Complaints Department, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he had never handled so many complaints in his career.
“This is the first time since I started working for the ministry 10 years ago that I have across so many complaints in such a short time span.
My desk is full of complaint applications and the situation is the same with all my colleagues. We are handling more than triple the workload we had a few months ago,” he said. Typing offices, where applications for any type of transactions with the government departments are submitted, reported that most of the work they do now is applications for labor card cancellations and complaints against employers.
Typists at Al-Jawhara typing center, located near the ministry, said that 80 percent of the applications they handle at the moment are either cancellations or complaints.
The typists reported that number of new labor card applications has dropped by more than 70 percent and on some days they do not even handle such applications.
One of the typists, Mohaseb Saeed, said that their center only handles transactions for small or medium-sized companies.
“The bigger companies that have more than 1,000 employees have their own internal typing systems which handle the transactions.” Saeed pointed out that the cancellations and labor complaints started in October.
“We initially had applications from workers in the real estate industry that had been fired or were not given their dues. Nowadays it’s mostly workers in the construction industry,” he said.
Another typing center reported that they had 120 labor card cancellation applications in December alone. During the same period 152 labor complaints applications were submitted while only 48 applications for new labor cards were submitted.
The typists, who refused to give their names, said that more than one worker’s papers may be submitted under one application. “Sometimes we even have 10 or more workers in one application,” one of them explained.
Khalid Abunaqera, from White Flag Typing Center, said that his company was handling labor complaints from people who were on managerial level for the first time.
“We had a CEO of a real estate company who was earning AED100,000 per month submitting a complaint against his company for unfair dismissal and not giving him his end of service benefits.
“That is the first time we had ever dealt with such a complaint. We also had managers earning more than 30,000 submitting complaints.”
He pointed out that most of the complaints were of employees who had been made redundant and were not paid their dues. Also complaints related to forced unpaid leave were also becoming common, he said.
First seen in Arab News.