ABU DHABI // A Labour Day fun run turned into a big pay day for a Bangladeshi labourer yesterday. Farouq Ali, 23, from Dhaka pocketed Dh5,000 (US$1,350) after winning the country's first-ever Labour Day race as the Ministry of Labour (MoL) emphasised its commitment to stamping out abuse of workers. Some 500 labourers took part in the run, wearing caps, T-shirts and training shoes supplied by the ministry. After the race the MoL's Undersecretary, Hamid bin Dimas, drew applause from the weary participants as he told them they should report late salary payments or other work-related complaints to the ministry via a toll-free hotline.
"We want to send a message to the workers from the UAE that they are our partner and send a message to the bosses and to the whole of society that the workers should be respected," Mr bin Dimas said later. Participants from countries such as Pakistan, India, Nepal and Myanmar took part in the run in temperatures of about 40°C. Many completed the course at walking pace and ambulance crews from the New Medical Centre reported a handful of cases of exhaustion.
Mr Ali, who works for AAC in Dubai and had never run in a race before, sped past 24-year-old Egyptian Omar Mohammed, who works for Nurol Construction in Abu Dhabi, on the final straight of the 4km course by Ras al Akhdar Beach near the Emirates Palace hotel. The second, third, fourth and fifth-placed runners received Dh4,000, Dh3,000, Dh2,000 and Dh1,000 respectively. The rest of the runners were given Dh500 each for taking part, MoL officials said.