x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dh68m in unpaid wages returned to workers

Some 15,000 workers received unpaid wages in 2010 after police intervened on their behalf

DUBAI // More than Dh68 million in unpaid salaries was recovered last year as part of a Dubai Police initiative aiming to ensure workers are paid their dues.

About 15,000 workers benefited from the recovery scheme, according to Dubai Police.

The estimated expatriate workforce registered at the Ministry of Labour is 4.1 million, about half of whom live in Dubai. Market surveys show the average monthly salary for construction workers to be between Dh700 and Dh1,200.

The initiative, which operates under the title of a Prophet Mohammed Hadith "Give the worker his due before his sweat is dried up", aims to reduce the risk of labour protests by monitoring companies with a history of defaulting on salaries and ensuring workers are paid.

The initiative is supervised by the Anti Human Trafficking Control Centre at Dubai Police, which has a department that monitors the working and living conditions of the expatriate workforce. Last year, the centre received 574 complaints from individual workers and 87 collective complaints. The majority of the complaints concerned delays in salary payments.

Major Dr Sultan al Jamal, director of the Anti Human Trafficking Control Centre, said such initiatives help them monitor labour conditions in the emirate and thus ensure workers are not falling victim to forced labour.

"There is a difference between a labour dispute and a case of forced labour: while some workers can suffer from a delay in wages the issue of forced labour is much more complex and has to include elements like threat and confinement to make someone work without pay," said Dr al Jamal.

Last year, the first case of forced labour was reported in Dubai and referred to court, in which three workers, including a man, were held hostage and forced to work without pay and provide sexual services.