Arabtec underpaid and exploited Construction Worker
DUBAI – Thousands of construction workers at Arabtec, the emirate’s largest construction company, hold second day of action over poor pay.
Thousands of workers employed by Dubai’s largest construction company have gone on strike for a second day to back their wage demands in a rare labour protest in the Gulf emirate, where trade unions are banned.
Workers employed by Arabtec, the company behind projects including the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, did not show up for work on Sunday. Employees said the strike began on Saturday and that the workers were determined not to end it without a pay rise. “They are upset at the low wages and also about not being paid for overtime work,” one employee told the Reuters news agency. He said workers at his site were paid between $160 and $190 a month. The protest started in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and workers in Dubai have joined. Most blue-collar workers in the Gulf Arab states are migrant workers hired on a contract basis from South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Migrant workers in Dubai are often employed at wages that are extremely low by Western standards and housed in dormitory-style accommodation on the outskirts of the city, part of the UAE, a regional business and tourism hub. The United Arab Emirates Labour Ministry told Reuters that a team of the ministry’s labour crisis management committee was “closely following the work stoppage”. The ministry added that Arabtec was paying the workers according to contracts it had signed with them, and said their accommodation was in compliance with labour regulations. It said the workers were receiving meals and had free transportation, housing and health insurance, services that it said were at least equal to their salaries.