UAE deports striking workers

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Aug 4 2007 09:42
UAE deports striking workers

August 3, 2007

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has deported two-dozen striking foreign construction workers who had been demanding a pay hike and were refusing to return to work, the Gulf News daily reported Friday.

Around 500 workers began a protest late last month demanding a rise of 300 dirhams ($82) a month from their current wages of between 500 and 700 dirhams, the paper said.

Labor ministry official Maher Al Obaid was quoted as saying that most of the workers had agreed to go back to work.

"Some 120 workers demanded that they should be given a salary increase or their work permit be canceled. After deportation of the first batch of workers, many of them decided to go back to work," he said.

The company had earlier agreed to give the workers a 50-dirham increase.

The right to strike or even to form labor unions does not exist in the UAE.

The newspaper said that around 600 workers at another company who went on strike Monday over deduction of food allowance were continuing their protest Thursday. The workers had been transferred to new accommodation that did not have cooking facilities, and the firm was charging them nearly half of their wages to provide catering services, Obaid said.

No details were given about the nationality of the workers, but hundreds of thousands of Asians work in the economy, not only in construction but also in domestic service and other jobs.

Out of a population of about 4 million, less than 20 percent of the people in the UAE are nationals.

Last November the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, ordered sweeping measures to protect the rights of thousands of foreign laborers in the UAE.