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Sat 28 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Minimum wage not likely for UAE workers

Minimum wage will not be introduced in near future, according to Ministry of Labour.

A minimum wage for construction workers will not be introduced in the near future, according to the UAE Ministry of Labour.

"There will not be a minimum wage in the larger sense," said Ministry of Labour - International Affairs advisor Alex Zalami.

"I do not accept that in the immediate future there will be one."

"It's a matter of creating an environment that is conducive to higher wages. Let's look at the situation we have today and see if there is something that can be done by the ministry."

The implementation of a minimum wage was among the recommendations made by New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) 18 months ago in its report Building Towers - Cheating Workers.

Calls for the implementation of a minimum wage have grown since.

HRW said that to its knowledge none of the 11 recommendations contained in its November 2006 report, which were targeted at the UAE federal government, had been acted upon.

Joe Stork, deputy director, HRW Middle East and North Africa Division, said that while it was too early to confirm whether some of the recommendations had been addressed or not, others had been ignored.

"One of the big issues that we raised was to enforce the laws that are currently on the books," he said.

"The recommendations that we do know about, in terms of implementing the minimum wage for instance, and bringing domestic workers under the Ministry of Labour instead of the Ministry of Interior - none of this has happened.

"When we were here two-plus years ago we could not find a single instance where there had been a serious enforcement - the kind that would actually penalise a violator and would send an actual message of deterrence.

"Have there been any since then? I don't know. That would be something to look into."

Along with the introduction of a minimum wage, recommendations made in the 2006 report included the establishment of an independent commission to investigate and report on the situation of migrant workers and the aggressive investigation and prosecution of employers who violated labour law.

International Labour Organisation representative, Walid Hamdan, workers specialist for the regional office for Arab States, said that despite a few changes being made a lot more had to be done for labour rights before the UAE could be removed from under the watchful eyes of the United Nations.

RELATED LINKS:Labour campaign, Worker conditions fall short of fair treatment

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