By Conrad Egbert
Hiring labour has turned into a moneymaking racket for some, with unscrupulous labour agents conning migrant construction workers out of thousands of dirhams.
Rogue Labour agents are duping migrant construction workers from India into paying thousands of dirhams to get placed in jobs in the UAE.
And some site workers have been forced to pay up to AED7000 in the hope of gaining employment in the local booming construction industry.
But many end up losing their cash to unscrupulous agents who have no intention of placing them in jobs.
“I had to take out a loan of AED10 000 when I was in my hometown in Kerela, as the recruitment agency that hired me demanded AED7000 (INR70 000) to cover my visa and medical charges.
“I have friends who have done the same and have been waiting for almost two years now to get a job in the UAE. Issuing visas has become a moneymaking racket.
“The recruitment agents take money for getting our visas and then forget about us,” said one labourer working for a Dubai-based contractor. Recruitment agents have told Construction Week that scams like this one have become widespread in the industry.
“There are a lot of agents in the market who hire just to get the money deposits from unsuspecting parties,” said Sohail Vakil, recruitment manager of Dubai-based Al Vakil Recruitment Services.
“I know of countless cases where agents even handed out fake visas to unskilled labourers who have deposited money with them.
“They play on the ignorance of these workers who don’t realise that they’ve been fooled until it’s too late. “And when the agents are contacted, it is learned that they’ve shut shop and run away with the deposits,” he added.The practice has also attracted the attention of the Indian Consulate.
The consul general YK Sinha believes it creates a cycle of exploitation, as many workers are then afraid of complaining through fear of losing their jobs.
He said: “Debt is the main reason why workers who are facing problems don’t complain to us.
“Most of the workers take loans to pay recruitment agents large sums of money to get them jobs in the country. They’re scared they’ll lose their jobs and therefore won’t be able to pay off that debt.”