UAE’s Arabtec raises 36,000 labourer wages by 20%

Foreign workers at Dubai construction firm staged mass walk-out over pay dispute in May
By Shane McGinley
Mon 30 Sep 2013 12:22 PM

Arabtec, the UAE’s largest listed construction firm, has raised the salaries of all 36,000 of its workers in the Gulf state by 20 percent following large-scale strikes earlier this year.

In a statement on the country’s state news agency, Arabtec said that move was part of an effort to provide an “exemplary work environment to workers”.

Labourers at Arabtec are currently paid between $160 to $190 per month, according to sources.

In May, thousands of workers employed by Dubai-based Arabtec stayed away from work for four days demanding higher wages and better working conditions in a rare example of industrial action in the UAE, where workers’ unions are illegal.

Most blue collar workers in the Gulf Arab states are migrant labourers hired on a contract basis from South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, and strikes are uncommon.

Migrant workers in Dubai are often employed at wages that are low by Western standards and housed in dormitory-style accommodation on the outskirts of the city.

Following the strikes, about 200 Arabtec workers were repatriated to their home countries. Sites affected by the walk-out included projects such as the Dubai Airport Terminal 2 expansion and construction in Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road and Dubai Marina.

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