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Sat 1 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Consulate pushes for pardons for protestors

The Consulate General of India is stepping in to try and renegotiate the six-month prison sentence given to 45 Indian construction workers by a Dubai court last week for violent protests over pay.

The Consulate General of India is stepping in to try and renegotiate the six-month prison sentence given to 45 Indian construction workers by a Dubai court last week for violent protests over pay.

The workers will also be deported for their involvement in the protests in late 2007.

The workers closed roads, assaulted police and overturned cars in several protests over pay and living conditions.

The court found the labourers guilty of charges including holding illegal gatherings, vandalism and violating public security.

"We are trying to see what we can do for these workers," said BS Mubarak, labour consul, Indian Consulate. "Ideally, we'd like to get them out of jail as soon as possible and send them home."

"Even if they are banned from re-entering the country it doesn't matter, at least they wouldn't have to spend six months in jail and be unable to earn."

The series of strikes in November prompted the Ministry of Labour to call for a salary review among construction companies.

The UAE government has also revised the labour law to include requirements that employers pay for migrant workers' travel, employment permits, medical tests and healthcare.

It has also insisted on workers' camps meeting health and safety standards.

Mubarak added that the current situation has stressed even more the importance and urgency for the introduction of a minimum wage for construction workers.

"It should be out very soon," he said. "The minimum wage for domestic workers has already been announced and so it should follow for construction workers soon enough."

"The Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi is working on coming up with an accurate minimum wage taking into account the cost of living here and other pressing factors."

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