Monday, November 05, 2007

Good news for construction workers

The Emirates news agency WAM reports some good news from the UAE Cabinet meeting held on Sunday.

The Ministry of Labour was told to collaborate with construction companies to prepare, as a matter of urgency, proposals on the issue of the salaries of workers in the construction sector.

They will also, the Ministry said, ' intensify their inspections of workers' accommodation, noting that some of the housing facilities being provided to workers by some companies are sub-standard and do not meet the conditions and specifications laid down by the laws of the state'.

Ain't that the truth.

Later, The Big Boss, who of course presided over the Cabinet meeting, was at Dubai Municipality. He ordered an increase in the number of inspectors to cover all labour accommodation and he instructed the Municipality to double its efforts to preserve the image of Dubai.

Later, Labour Ministry Assistant Under-Secretary, Humaid bin Deemas, was forthcoming in his statements.

He said the Labour Ministry was following with deep concern the protests being made by workers from a number of construction companies which it was dealing with. It was also committed to taking the necessary measures to bring an end to any form of violation of the law.

He said the Ministry strongly insists that all workers must receive full wages without any deductions, for whatever reason. He said the ministry totally rejects the excuses being given by some companies for their practice of withholding wages. The ministry was determined to eradicate this practice which, he said, was considered by the UAE government to be an unacceptable form of exploitation that is in contravention of the law. He warned that the ministry will impose heavy fines and severe punishments on all those who are found by the supervisory committee to have violated the law.

There are two obvious observations to make I suppose.

One, wouldn't it be nice if we didn't need this kind of enforcement because we all treated each other with respect and honesty. Human nature being what it is, though, far too many people take any advantage they can from other people.

Two, why does it need Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and the Cabinet to tell the Ministries they need to do what they should be doing as a matter of course?

Salaries not being paid, deductions from salaries, sub-standard accommodation and conditions, all are illegal. It's been going on for years, yet here we are needing a Cabinet directive because the Ministry of Labour isn't on top of it.

If you'd like to read the original WAM reports they are here and here.


Serious Assistance said...

As someone in the construction industry, I can assure you nothing is going to come out of this. This is just a media campaign to tame the international press.

First, they said that they want to sit down with the construction companies to decide a plan. There are over 82,000 construction companies registered in the UAE - I'd love to see them meet with all the companies to hammer out a plan. Second, any imminent changes in the cost of labor will hit the construction sector especially infrastructure projects. You would see an immediate slow down in projects such as DubaiLand, Burj Dubai and the Metro. Third, at the moment, there are 29 labor inspectors to cover Dubai alone. Compare that to the number of projects under construction; there is no way that they would be able to tackle this job.

As long as the government defends the construction companies with the same song and dance (they signed a contract and therefore are legally bound to pay the contracted salaries) nothing is going to change.

Seabee said...

Yes, I know we have reason to be cynical about enforcement of laws, in all areas, but as the cabinet has given a directive I think we can be hopeful.

There's no suggestion they'll sit down with all the companies, nowhere in the world does that happen. Typically issues are discussed with industry bodies & major players.

Agreed there are only 29 inspectors, but Sheikh Mohammed has ordered the municipality to employ enough more to do the job.

Zafar said...

I think I read somewhere sometime ago, may be early this year, more inspectors should be employed to check on the violations committed by the construction companies.

What happened???????

Any improvement??????


redstar said...

I love the way Sheikh Mo has to come along and tell people to do their jobs in order for people to actually, er, do their jobs.

Keefieboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keefieboy said...

...he instructed the Municipality to double its efforts to preserve the image of Dubai.
So it's all DMs fault!

nzm said...

Keefie: all DM seem interested in doing is imposing fines and not actually taking any action to clean things up.

I have to agree with serious assistance.

3-4 years ago, what Sh. Mohammed said, was in line with what was done. He used to march into his companies and either fire people on the spot for not doing their jobs, or they were named and shamed on the front page of Gulf News. (One example of this that I remember is when he paid a surprise visit to DXB and found 5 supervisors were AWOL, and their pictures and names appeared in an article in GN with Sh. Mohammed saying that they either upped their game or were going to be fired.)

Nowadays it appears that there are many more statements made that aren't followed through with any action.

So what's changed?

Is everything too big now to manage effectively? Are there too many incompetent sub-ordinates unable to carry out the Sheikh's orders? Is there no accountability any more? Now that the guiding hand of the older guard has gone (Sh. Maktoum and Sh. Zayed), are there chinks appearing in the armour of those in charge?