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Wed 11 Mar 2015 11:12 AM

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"There is no punishment, no one is being deported," Dubai contractor says after protest

Labour Ministry says dispute was over a misunderstanding regarding overtime payments

"There is no punishment, no one is being deported," Dubai contractor says after protest

Management at Arabian Construction Company (ACC) have said they will not punish the workers who staged a protest in Downtown Dubai.

An estimated 200 labourers, working on the Fountain Views project near The Dubai Mall, downed tools and staged a rare public protest in Dubai in a dispute over payment of overtime.

The protest blocked traffic in the area and lasted under hour, before Dubai Police – some of whom were dressed in riot gear - convinced the workers to end their protest peacefully.

The workers, who could face deportation if a case was taken against them, will not face any sanctions, according to Hassan Auji, general manager at ACC.

“There is no punishment, no one is being deported. We care about our staff. But we are also not going to allow our arms to be twisted by such incidents,” he told 7Days newspaper.

The dispute centred on workers’ claim that overtime payments had stopped in January, but Auji said the complaints “have no merit” because the workers confused an incentive scheme with “entitled overtime”.

“We have nothing to hide. We can show that salaries have been paid, including overtime. It’s simply a misunderstanding of the fact that incentives are temporary and based on site-specific needs,” he said.

Director of the inspection department at the Ministry of Labour, Eissa Al Zarouni, said the issue was down to a misunderstanding.

“The problem was not of late salaries but the workers misunderstanding the mechanism of counting extra hours as fees,” he said.

One worker, who said he earns AED660 ($179) per month, told 7DAYS: “They take 12 hours of work from us but they pay us for eight. They used to pay us for the extra hours. Then the payments stopped.

“With overtime I used to make about AED1,200 ($326). But without that, just AED600 – AED700, how can we eat and also send something home? Even if I starve every day I cannot save anything to send back.”

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online