Sunday, October 05, 2008

Another glimpse of Dubai life

A follow up to my Better off in Dubai post last Thursday.

The coffee shop I use for my regular morning caffeine hit is in a commercial area so it was closed for four days over the Eid holiday.

The barista told me that they were nevertheless only being given two days off, the other two days they would have to work in another branch.

This morning I asked whether he'd had a good holiday.

"No holiday"

I asked why not.

The owner had changed his mind, decided they shouldn't have a break at all so they had to work at the other branch throughout Eid.

"Did he pay you extra?" I asked.

"No extra."

In an earlier conversation with him he was complaining that he hadn't had a salary increase in the two years he's worked for the company. And a colleague hadn't had one in four years.

His salary? Dh2,000 a month.

I asked him why he didn't go home.

In The Philippines, he said, he would also earn 2,000 a month - but not dirhams, pesos. That's a fraction of his salary here, it's about Dh155 (£24 or US$42 or €30).

So in spite of the salary, in spite of the way he's treated, he's better off here.

I have no reason to disbelieve his figures by the way, there are plenty of reports available. For example, USAID says that the average annual income per person in The Philippines is US$1,170 and that over 40% of the 90 million population live (live?) on $2 a day or less.



redstar said...

I agree with your comments.

Low pay, compared to, say, working in London, is fine - if that's what you've signed up for and you know what you're getting into.

What stinks is when these people are then tricked into working harder than they should or are forced to do job different to what they were hired for.

LDU said...

As you mentioned in a previous post, i too believe that it is important to consider stuff in their proper context.

Abu Dhabi Blogger said...

Sadly it is true, most of these blue-collar workers are better off here. The labourers for instance earn about AED 600 a month. Back home, they will not earn more than the equivalent of AED 150 a month. Unfortunately, prices of essential goods are almost the same there as they are here. So even the labour class is better off. They would never have come here if the poverty in their home countries was not this absolute.
I hope the UAE labor law evolves speedily. While we sit in our lofty offices, the guys who build them have the hardest job and the least salary.

CG said...

When my maid was due for a renewal just over a year ago, she asked if I would renew her on the new salary stipulated by the Philippines labour thingy, anyway, I said no, that if she wanted to stay she would remain on the same conditions (with a yearly increment). If she did not want to then she could go home. Simple as that. She chose to stay. She tried, and would probably try again should a new law arise, but I shall hold firm. She does her job, but is not at all bright, and is not worth more than this. Back home she would find it hard to get any employment.

I do not agree about the labourers plights. I know the cost of living has increased and for that they should have a commissary or similar on site, to buy their essentials at cost price. But in the end of it all, they are here because they want/need to be. A few are brought in under false promises, but they take that chance, again, because they want/need to.

alexander... said...

I asked my regular cabbie, Mr G, if he'd managed any time off for Eid.

No time, no hour, no holiday, no weekend for two years.