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Mon 29 Oct 2007 11:29 AM

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UAE draws line in sand over worker unrest

Labourers involved in violent protest over weekend face deportation.

The UAE Ministry of Labour is to deport construction workers involved in a violent protest over the weekend as the government looks to draw a line in the sand over public demonstrations by low-paid labourers over pay and conditions.

Employees of an unnamed contracting company took to the streets in demand of better pay, housing and transport services in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The demonstration turned violent when police tried to remove the workers after they blocked Jebel Ali Industrial Road, with some of the protestors hurling stones at police and passing motorists.

The workers - currently in custody - are having their visas revoked and face a lifetime ban from working in the country, a ministry official said, quoted UAE daily Gulf News on Monday.

The majority of labourers facing deportation are reportedly of Asian origin.

The move to deport the workers follows a similar incident in August when around 24 construction workers who had protested for a pay rise were deported for refusing to return to work.

According to reports, the group was part of 500 construction workers protesting at their labour camp in demand of a 300 dirham pay rise in late July.

The number of protests by low-paid labourers over pay and conditions has been steadily growing and the ministry's announcement is being seen as a clear message that the sort of protests witnessed on Saturday will not be tolerated.

The Emirates construction boom is currently facing a number of challenges such as skills shortages and the rising cost of raw materials, and the government and developers will not want to add worker unrest to that list.

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