x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

FNC plans complaint hotline for Emiratis

FNC members are planning a phone hotline and social media channels for Emiratis to resolve any grievances with the Government.

ABU DHABI // FNC members are planning a phone hotline and social media channels for Emiratis to resolve any grievances with the Government.

Complaints would be handled initially by trained staff at a dedicated call centre. The service would be open to Emiratis who had exhausted other routes, provided their complaint was a matter of genuine public concern and not merely a personal grievance.

In addition, the complaint must not be under consideration by a court of law, or awaiting a judicial ruling. If the plans go ahead, the new service should be available early next year.

"We are trying to find the best way to reach out to the community," said Afra Al Busti (appointed, Dubai), secretary of the council's Examination of Appeals and Complaints Committee. "But the complaints can be directed only to the Federal Government."

Khalifa Nasser Al Suwaidi (appointed, Abu Dhabi), the committee chairman, gave the example of an Emirati who believed he had been fired for no reason. "If the [labour] ministry does not respond or cannot help, then the case should come to us," he said.

"We won't refuse any complaint. We must, however, first make sure that the complaint raised is legitimate, and that all statements are true."

He said it would give the committee a more active role, and provide a way for its members to follow up on complaints. It would also give ordinary Emiratis a way of making their voice heard by the Government.

Once filed, a complaint will be raised with the FNC speaker, Mohamed Al Mur (appointed, Dubai), who will ask either the Prime Minister or the minister concerned to present the relevant documents within three weeks.

First, though, a call centre will need to be set up and staff trained. "We cannot have a hotline without a call centre," said Ms Al Busti. "And all the people working there need to be given special training to be able to handle the phone calls."

Entities that are not part of the Federal Government would be able to contact the call centre to let its staff know about new services that might help callers.

"Then we can have a lot of interaction through the call centres," said Ms Al Busti. "This can be the start of a bigger and better network to help people."

Mariam Al Falasi, an active tweeter from Dubai, said that if the service made good use of social networking sites such as Twitter, it could be a great innovation.

"Communication is always important," she said. "Having a hotline and social media is key because it introduces a new fast two-way dialogue.

"I think this is a really good step to make the FNC more active, but it is essential to inform other people of these services. Without awareness the project may not succeed."

She said that through Twitter alone, the FNC would be able to reach a much wider audience, many of whom would otherwise be unlikely to get in touch. "The best use of social media would make a big difference," she said.

The committee is still working on the plan, to be finalised when it meets next week. If agreed, the plan will have to be approved by the whole FNC, as it would be funded from the general FNC budget.

Committee members have already begun looking over complaints filed through the the FNC's official website, and in letters it has received.

The new service would supplement the website complaints section, which was set up by the former Abu Dhabi member Mugheer Al Khaili in 2007.

Ruwayya Al Samahi, a former appointed Fujairah member, said she was proud her successors were continuing the last committee's work and "adding new methods not thought of before".