Ministry reveals action plan to help UAE labourers

Officials put together new construction site strategy after BBC doc controversy.
Ministry reveals action plan to help UAE labourers
NEW PLAN: The Ministry of Labour has announced a new strategy to help improve conditions for labourers in the UAE. (Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 10 Apr 2009 08:28 AM

The UAE has put together a new strategy to improve living and working conditions for labourers, it was reported on Friday.

The Ministry of Labour's campaign will include an offensive against unscrupulous foreign recruitment agencies and the publication of a guide book to make construction workers aware of their rights.

The initiative will also include holding seminars with companies in an effort to raise health and safety standards, reported UAE daily The National, citing a Ministry official.

“The launch of the guide book is imminent and it is meant to raise awareness within the labour population in the country about their rights and what they can do to preserve that,” the high-ranking official told the paper.

The announcement followed claims in a BBC documentary that some labourers were living in “inhumane conditions”.

The Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash, said on Wednesday that the ministry was investigating the “veracity” of the issues raised by the programme.

And in a strong response to the findings of the programme, CEO Riad Kamal accused Panorama of being unfair in its reporting of the living and working conditions of workers of Arabtec Construction, a subsidiary of Arabtec Holding.

Arabtec had more than 20 camps in Dubai and Abu Dhabi which were cleaned daily, Kamal said.

Some foreign recruitment agencies have recently switched their focus from the Indian state of Kerala, where media and government campaigns have raised awareness about bogus agencies, to Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, where potential recruits are less likely to be informed of the potential pitfalls.

The Ministry of Labour now intends to set up offices in the Indian states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, to monitor the situation directly, according to the official.

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