Labourers at Burj Dubai site halt work for second day

Filed on March 23, 2006

DUBAI - A labour strike on Dubai’s Burj Dubai construction site dragged into its second straight day on Thursday, as some 2,500 workers refused to return to work after a night rampage two days ago in which they smashed cars and offices.

The workers, employed by the Dubai-based firm Al Naboodah Laing O’Rourke, have idled construction on several buildings surrounding the Burj Dubai, a skyscraper expected to be the world’s tallest when it is completed in 2008.

B.J. Kim, development manager for Samsung Corp., the South Korean conglomerate that is chief contractor on the Burj Dubai, said construction of the skyscraper was moving ahead, and not affected by the labour dispute, in which builders on adjacent towers are asking for better pay and employment conditions.

Labour investigators with the Emirates Interior Ministry were embroiled in talks with the striking workers and Al Naboodah managers again on Thursday.

“They came back to the site but they still refuse to work,” Lt. Col. Rashid Bakhit Al Jumairi, a labour investigator, said on Thursday.

Al Jumairi said the labourers were demanding overtime pay, better medical care and humane treatment by foremen. He said Al Naboodah had agreed to some of the demands, but not all. The workers agreed to their employment conditions when they signed contracts, he said.

“They have no right to continue this strike, actually,” Al Jumairi said.

The rare outbreak of violence on Tuesday caused an estimated $1 million worth of damage and illustrated growing unrest among foreign workers who are the linchpin of Dubai’s building boom.

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