Labour­ers: know your rights

Help for low-paid work­ers to un­der­stand law

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma­hak Man­nan @Ma­hakLFC

Labour­ers have been urged to re­port their bosses to the au­thor­i­ties “with­out hes­i­ta­tion” if they be­lieve they are breach­ing UAE labour laws.

Labour min­istry of­fi­cials de­liv­ered the mes­sage to hun­dreds of low-paid work­ers at a ‘Know Your Rights’ event in Abu Dhabi yes­ter­day.

The event at the ICAD camp in Musaf­fah in­volved work­ers be­ing ad­vised that they do not have to pay fees to re­cruit­ment agen­cies – some­thing gov­ern­ments and many ex­pat work­ers have long com­plained about.

Labour of­fi­cials also told the work­ers that visa, travel and postal costs, for ex­am­ple, must not be borne by the em­ployee.

“The em­ployer should pay the costs of your re­cruit­ment and de­ploy­ment - which in­cludes fees paid to a pri­vate re­cruit­ment agency in the labourer’s coun­try,” said Ali Ibrahim Al She­hhi, a labour re­la­tions of­fi­cer. He said work­ers have the right to change jobs if they wish, un­der re­cently in­tro­duced changes to the law, al­though he said “ap­pro­pri­ate no­tice” had to be given and agreed em­ploy­ment terms had to be com­pleted.

7DAYS spoke to low-paid work­ers who said the event was a long-over­due eye opener.

Pak­istani driver Amir Us­man, 30, said: “I’ve been here for two years and miss my fam­ily and kids a lot. The only rea­son keep­ing me here was that I was un­der the im­pres­sion I would owe my em­ployer money if I left.

“Now I am at peace know­ing I can leave once my con­tract is over, and I am un­der no obli­ga­tion to sign a new one.”

An­other worker, Bangladeshi Mo­hammed Ash­faq, 42, said he has lived in Abu Dhabi for al­most two decades.

He said: “I did not know I ac­tu­ally had a place to go and com­plain if any­thing went wrong.

“What we think is, we are labour­ers - we ei­ther make the best of what we get or go back to our home coun­try. Now I know where I can com­plain if I have any prob­lems.”

Ash­faq also spoke of his liv­ing con­di­tions. He told 7DAYS: “It varies be­tween two to 10 peo­ple liv­ing in a room. If you are lucky you have less peo­ple. That is some­thing we can’t do any­thing about. It is un­com­fort­able, but it is our home.” Pak­istani Shezadul­lah Khan, 29, also said: “I used to hear about other jobs that pay bet­ter but thought since my em­ployer brought me here, I could not leave. Now I can look for a change if a bet­ter job comes my way. I used to be scared to leave my cur­rent job.” Saqr Ghobash, Min­is­ter of Hu­man Re­sources and Emi­rati­sa­tion, said: “The UAE is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing all means of pro­tec­tion to work­ers’ rights.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.