Latest statistics reveal that 28,238 people absconded from their employers. "It is almost the same number as that of the corresponding period last year, which means that the problem needs to be addressed with tangible solutions," said a ministry official. The phenomenon of absconding labourers remains a headache in all AGCC states, but it is more acute in the UAE, with a weak labour inspection system due to scarce resources.
Dubai has topped the list of absconding workers with 9,762 cases. In Abu Dhabi, there were 9073 cases, Sharjah 4950, Al Ain 1820, Ajman 1119, Ras Al Khaimah 613, Fujairah 384, Umm Al Quwain 200, Khorfakkan 111, Kalba 94, Zayed City 91 and Delma Island 11.
"We cannot take these figures as conveying the real situation. Some establishments sometime rush to report labourers missing after the latter lodge complaints against their employers for failure to pay their salaries or entitlements, in an attempt to weaken their chances of getting their rights given by law," said one source.
Officials reiterated the importance of dealing with cases of absconding workers in an efficient manner as the problem poses security and other risks.
They said some workers abscond and seek employment, though illegal, in free zones around the country, where labour laws do not apply.
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