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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Striking labourers back to work on Dubai construction site

About 400 of the 3,200 workers on the Emaar site behind The Dubai Mall will start the night shift on Wednesday after day-long talks between their company and the Ministry of Labour.
Lt Col Sultan Al Jammal, of the Human Trafficking unit at Dubai Police’s Department of Human Rights, addresses the workers. Courtesy Dubai Police
Lt Col Sultan Al Jammal, of the Human Trafficking unit at Dubai Police’s Department of Human Rights, addresses the workers. Courtesy Dubai Police

DUBAI // More than 24 hours after hundreds of workers blocked traffic in downtown Dubai to protest about overtime rates, about 400 of them will return to work on the Fountain Views site for a night shift on Wednesday following day-long talks with Ministry of Labour officials.

“They will start on the night shift. The site was not abandoned today [Wednesday] but there was only 20 per cent work done because it took us at least a day to talk and settle things,” said Hassan Auji, the general manager of Arabic Construction Company, which employs the 3,200 workers on the Emaar site behind the Dubai Mall.

Dubai Police had controlled the workers’ demonstration on Tuesday morning within one hour and had confirmed there were no arrests.

Labour ministry officials have checked the company’s computer logs to verify the workers’ complaints that they were not paid adequate overtime rates.

“Our system is computerised and workers punch in and out the number of hours they work and this cannot be faked,” Mr Auji said.

“Divisions of the Ministry of Labour have looked into our systems and also talked to the workers about their rights today and given them the number they can call to complain.”

The workers objections included not being compensated adequately for overtime work.

Mr Auji insisted that food, medical and transportation allowances were being paid, and added that the protest hinged on incentives that had been withdrawn.

“The issue was the incentives and no incentive is permanent. The needs of the work will define the type of incentive. This was beyond what was mentioned in their contract,” he said.

There would be no attempt to investigate and discipline the workers who led the strike, the company said.

“As a company, we have no intention to fire or terminate anyone,” he said.

“But if they instigate workers or repeat an unlawful action like blocking the road, then action will have to be taken and they can be deported, as per the law. But, instead, we have told them they can come to us with any other legitimate concerns or approach the labour office.”

Read the ACC’s full statement.

rtalwar@thenational.ae