Police inspect Dubai labour camps

Worker's housing is investigated to ensure employers meet gov't standards after recent strikes.
Police inspect Dubai labour camps
By Lynne Roberts and agencies
Thu 15 Nov 2007 12:58 AM

Dubai's police began inspecting labourers' housing on Wednesday to check employers were meeting government standards after construction workers downed tools and rioted to demand better pay and conditions.

A police department that monitors human rights violations started visiting labour camps run by building contractors and will be allowed to record complaints from workers about accommodation, official news agency Wam said.

Inspection teams from the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs have also increased site visits to check health and safety compliance.

"Some 17 inspectors from the committee visited 22 labour camps in Al Qouz, Jebel Ali and Al Muhaisna to review living conditions. The committee has increased weekly inspection visits from 8 to 10," Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri told Wam.

Inspection teams noted minor violations in some accommodations such as the use of gas ovens in the kitchens by the workers and shortage of water coolers.

About 35,000 workers at the country's largest construction firm by market value, Arabtec, went on strike for about 10 days for better pay. They also asked for safer working conditions and better accommodation.

South Asian labour, mainly from India and Pakistan, is the backbone of the booming Dubai construction industry, which is involved in creating palm-tree shaped man-made islands and the world's tallest skyscraper.

The UAE cabinet earlier this month called for urgent action on pay for foreign labourers.

Foreigners, including labourers and executives, comprise over 85% of the UAE's four million population.

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