Work­ers say move will boost earn­ings

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A new de­cree forc­ing com­pa­nies to pay the cost of hous­ing low-paid em­ploy­ees’ will have a huge im­pact on their salaries and al­low them to send more money home to their fam­i­lies, they say.

7DAYS spoke to a num­ber of work­ers along with a top diplo­mat who said the move will mean a salary boost of hun­dreds of dirhams per month for many of the low­est paid in so­ci­ety.

The move af­fects those earn­ing Dhs2,000 or less a month in com­pa­nies with more than 50 em­ploy­ees.

The de­cree, announced by Saqr Ghobash, Min­is­ter of Hu­man Re­sources and Emi­rati­sa­tion, comes into ef­fect from December and fol­lows a study into liv­ing con­di­tions in the coun­try.

Li­aqat Khan, 36, a Pak­istani con­struc­tion worker in Abu Dhabi who earns Dhs1,700 per month said the de­cree meant he will have more money to send back home.

“I can send the ex­tra Dhs300 to my fam­ily, which will cover my son’s school fees for a cou­ple of months - this is a very big thing for me,”he told 7DAYS. “I will be very happy when I get free ac­com­mo­da­tion, be­cause cur­rently I pay Dhs300 ev­ery month to stay in a room with five other peo­ple.”

Khan said low-paid work­ers like him­self live in con­stant fear of rent hikes, which can ef­fec­tively wipe out the re­mit­tances that keeps their fam­i­lies fed and housed.

“I keep wor­ry­ing I may have to move to a By Ma­hak Man­nan cheaper place if my house owner de­mands more money,” he said.

“But when my com­pany houses me, I will not have to worry about that any more.” Bangladeshi of­fice boy Mo­hammed Arif, 38, works in a con­sul­tancy firm in the cap­i­tal by day and cleans vil­las and apart­ments by night to sup­port his fam­ily.

He said the change will al­low him to ease his work­load and send hun­dreds more home to his fam­ily.

Arif ( right) said: “Cur­rently I earn Dhs1,900, out of which Dhs300 goes in rent and ap­prox­i­mately Dhs400 on food and daily ex­penses. “I send the rest back home. “I try to do as many odd jobs as pos­si­ble af­ter hours to make more money, as a cleaner or help peo­ple mov­ing houses.

“Rent-free ac­com­mo­da­tion would give me al­most a month’s pay from clean­ing one house.”

In­dian Am­bas­sador to the UAE TP Seetharam said the new de­cree has far reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for the low­est paid.

He told 7DAYS that, at present, even the cost of the cheap­est bed space leaves many with lit­tle cash to live on.

“Rents are very high in this part of the world, even to get a bed space, a per­son has to pay large amounts, this law will help elim­i­nate that cost,” said Seetharam.

In­der Bhag­nani, founder of the Feed A Labour ini­tia­tive, which dis­trib­utes food to hun­dreds of labour­ers each week, added: “A mere Dhs100 or Dhs200 off rent will make a dras­tic change in their lives.

“They can use it to call back home, buy more food or pro­vide for the fam­ily.

“How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of work­ers who earn be­low Dhs1,000 have ac­com­mo­da­tion, so it might not make a dif­fer­ence to them.”

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