x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Firms 'depriving workers of food'

More than 100 companies are facing action for depriving workers of food and housing up to 10 men in a room.

SHARJAH // More than 100 companies are facing action for breaking labour laws, the municipality said yesterday, including for housing up to 10 men in a room and depriving their workers of food. The municipality said it found 124 companies housing workers in overcrowded and dilapidated rooms. Mohammed al Kaabi, the head of the security and operations section, said the firms "had to be dealt with as the law requires".

"It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour to take action against these companies," he said. "We have given them a full list of violating companies from our recent inspections." In typical cases 10 workers were living in rooms meant for four people, forcing some to sleep on floors, he said. Earlier this week a municipality inspection team found up to 80 workers sharing one house in which the bathroom and kitchen were being used as makeshift bedrooms.

Federal government inspectors also reported finding unpaid and underpaid workers, overcrowded housing and other violations of labour laws at more than 1,800 worksites and labour camps across the country. Abdelrazaq Qambar, the Ministry of Labour's chief inspector, said some firms, to cut costs, had added as much as 40 per cent to the population of their camps and cut meals to workers from three a day to one.

A senior ministry official said that it had received a list of violating companies from Sharjah Municipality and pledged to take action. Mr al Kaabi said some companies were intentionally seeking cheaper and dilapidated houses for their workers to maximise profits, even though Sharjah had an adequate supply of accommodation. "We send a warning letter first, then cut off electricity and water and subsequently close the buildings in case of continued violations of the standards," he said.

"We want all companies to know that providing adequate and healthy accommodation for their workers is not only benefiting authorities but them also. A healthy worker is more productive than an unhealthy one." ykakande@thenational.ae