World Economy

Dubai Workers Protest Low Wages

Dubai Workers Protest Low WagesDubai Workers Protest Low Wages

Hundreds of foreign construction workers have staged a rare public protest outside Dubai Mall in a pay dispute with their company, according to witnesses.

Authorities deployed riot police on Tuesday to the city’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, where the world’s tallest building is located, blocking some roads while negotiators tried to settle a dispute about overtime pay.

The workers, from South Asia, said the company had stopped overtime work and pay at a time when basic salaries were too low.

The Dubai government media office, in a message over Twitter, said Dubai police helped to resolve the dispute, RTE reported.

“Within an hour, Dubai Police resolved issues of Fountain Views workers gathered in Boulevard demanding bonus,” it said.

Workers, wearing green uniforms, remained at their construction site near Dubai Mall while negotiations went on.

They cheered and applauded when they were informed that the dispute had been settled and as police began leaving the area.

In May 2013, thousands of workers employed by Dubai’s largest construction company went on strike to back wage demands, a country where trade unions are banned.

Blue-collared laborers employed by Arabtec, the company behind projects including the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, did not show up for work for at least two days.

Employees said 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 then. He said workers at his site were paid between $160 and $190 a month.

  Low wages

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 UAE Labor Ministry told Reuters that the laborers were receiving meals and had free transportation, housing and health insurance, services that it said were at least equal to their salaries.

Dubai’s building boom stalled in 2009 after the global slowdown triggered a collapse in its property sector, with prices falling by more than 50 percent from their peaks of 2008.

Construction has gradually picked up as developers have revived stalled projects and announced new ones including the world’s biggest Ferris wheel and more than 100 luxury hotels.