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Workers asked 'to sit it out'

Construction workers are becoming more worried about how much money they can afford to send home.

ABU DHABI // Construction workers are becoming more worried about how much money they can afford to send home. "We have been arriving at our worksites for the past 20 days and have just been asked to sit it out," said Mohammed Alam, a carpenter from Bangladesh, one of a group of labourers in Musaffah. "We have been told that our company lost out on a small contract and are now in the process of bidding for a bigger one, so it is just a matter of time before we go back to work. But we are not sure of that."

Although Mr Alam has still been paid his monthly salary, he said the payments were erratic. "The best case is when we are paid on the fifth of the month, but sometimes that becomes the 10th or 15th. In that case what can you do? People at home depend on our money and if they don't get it, there is nothing that can be done. They just have to make do with the difficulty." Mohammed Ali, a Bangladeshi whose basic monthly pay is Dh800 (US$218), said he remitted his entire salary. He depends on overtime, Dh200 to Dh300 a month, to pay for his food, clothing and phone cards.

"You can't send only Dh100 home. It gets them nothing. So I have to send back as much as possible." Khurram Rashid, from Faisalabad, said he had dropped out of college in Pakistan after a relative, who had been supporting his family, urged him to help pay the bills. He sends money home through a transfer agency. "I call home after I send money and for some reason that I don't understand, the payments are always late, but I am just glad that for now I have a job and I can support them." * The National

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