Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

More enforcement on labour contracts

Still more news about exploitation of some foreign workers points up yet again the need for vigorous enforcement of sound laws to protect working people.

When the Labour Ministry said in January that it was time to "get to the bottom" of the nation's labour problems, advocates for the nation's millions of guest workers were optimistic. "The intention here is very noble," said MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador. "But we wish they would quicken the pace."

In the past two years there have been effective labour protection policies put in place - chiefly the wage protection system that requires that workers' salaries are deposited into bank accounts - but there are issues that still need to be addressed. As The National reports today, some foreign workers continue to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous recruitment agents. Contracts signed in home countries prior to departing for the UAE are often torn up and reissued at lower wages and with fewer benefits than those originally agreed upon.

Workers from any nation, regardless of skill level, have a basic right to review binding contracts before they make a decision to move here. By the same token, employers have a responsibility to honour documents signed during the recruitment process. And when these agreements are ignored, government regulators have to be there to protect exploited workers.

Housekeepers and other domestic staff may have the hardest time defending their interests. Unlike most foreign workers protected by the Ministry of Labour, domestic staff fall under rules administered by the Ministry of Interior. These rules only specify who can sponsor or employ a maid; there are far too many gaps in the laws about working and living conditions.

Domestic staff obviously deserve the same protections as any other workers, ranging from a mandatory weekly day off and reasonable limits on working hours to wage guarantees and a fair process to resolve grievances. Last week, The National reported on a Philippine advocacy group that is trying to help a housemaid - who has not been paid or had a day off in three years. Those kinds of cases cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks.

Labour law involving expatriates is a complicated matter, involving both the host and the country of origin. But where UAE law is on the books, it has to be enforced and workers provided with the means to have their grievances redressed.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National