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Sat 16 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Minimum wage is expected in March

The Indian government is expected to announce separate minimum wage requirements for all categories of workers across the GCC states in March.

The Indian government is expected to announce separate minimum wage requirements for all categories of workers across the GCC states in March.

The Indian ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, said his UAE office was also working on updating worker contracts in the country.

"Everything is in the advisory stage and nothing has been finalised as yet," he told Construction Week. "We're looking at every aspect of the hiring process, right from the contract signing stage to the wages being paid.

Ahmad added that non-Arabic speaking Indian workers coming to the country sign one contract at home and then another on arrival in the UAE, which is usually in Arabic.

"This is a big loophole in the system, which we are looking into. When a worker is hired he signs a contract in India that offers him a certain wage and then on arrival in the UAE he signs another one that offers him a lower wage, and this is where the problem arises.

"We are now going to make sure that only one contract will be signed and that is going to be the one in India. No other contract will be valid apart from that.

The current minimum wage in the UAE for unskilled Indian workers is US $165 (AED600) per month. This figure has not been updated since 2005.

Earlier this month, the Indian government imposed a minimum wage of $265 per month for workers in Bahrain.

"Workers will not be allowed to leave the country unless their contracts meet the minimum wage requirements," said Balkrishna Shetty, the Indian Ambassador to Bahrain.

"We will not impose the minimum wage on companies that have existing contracts with Indian workers but we do ask them to align themselves with the new minimum wage on humanitarian grounds.

All Indian embassies across the GCC are working on their own minimum wage schemes in line with the cost of living in each country.

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