Govt plans to use Emirates Post to ensure firms pay workers on time

DUBAI — The Ministry of Labour yesterday unveiled a plan to credit workers' salaries through Emirates Post at the beginning of each month.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 9 Jul 2006, 9:50 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:09 PM

The move is aimed at curbing labour unrest and ensuring that workers receive their salaries on time.

An announcement to this effect was made by Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, Minister of Labour (MoL).

He was speaking at a function to mark the launch of the noon-break awareness campaign. The new proposal is one of 29 recommendations submitted in April by the MoL to the Cabinet to check non-payment of wages and resultant discord.

Dr Al Kaabi said that the proposal would enable workers to receive their salaries through Emirates Post rather than through the company. Each worker would be eligible for a card that would allow him to withdraw the monthly pay, he said. Participation in the plan would, however, be optional for companies.

“This proposal will be discussed with the ministry's consultative council which comprises officials, businessmen and company representatives, following which a memo of understanding will be signed with Emirates Post,” Dr Al Kaabi said. Firms opting for the proposal stood to avail numerous facilities and incentives, among them waiver of bank guarantees for individual workers, he observed.

On the noon-break campaign, he said it showed the ministry's accent on improving work environments and striking a balance between interests of workers, employers and the society at large. Companies would be well advised to strictly adhere to stipulations banning work under the sun between 12.30 pm and 3 pm, he said.

Referring to the ministerial order on noon breaks through July and August, Al Kaabi said it had enhanced the UAE's standing at the international level. The campaign mirrored the country's commitment to enhance environmental and health criteria governing the labour market, he said. This apart, the drive reflected supporting the government's concern for the well-being of every resident, he added.

Al Kaabi called upon companies to take practical steps to ensure the success of the ministry's initiative. He also sought to remind employers to pay their workers overtime in the event of work hours being increased to meet advanced deadlines.

Present on the occasion was Dr Khalid Al Khazraji, the ministry's under-secretary, who highlighted negative consequences of exposing workers to heat and humidity. Heat exhaustion, skin diseases and other health complications could bring down staffers, he warned, advising companies to strictly observe the noon-break rule.

Work sites could also provide cold water, first aid and shades to cut down on risk of severe heat exposure, Al Khazraji said. The noon-break decision had been taken after a thorough study that had accounted for humanitarian and safety aspects besides international conventions on work conditions, he observed.

He added that the UAE had signed international agreements which stipulated that labourers not be exposed to harsh climates.

On complaints from the private sector about the financial repercussions of the decision, he quipped: “It is strange to hear such a complaint, especially since the ministry had elicited the opinion of companies and modified the stoppage from four to two-and-a-half-hour duration. Observing the rule is very important for the reputation and image of the country.”

Welcoming the attitude of companies which had observed the rule, he, however, warned of continuing inspections. Penalties would include changes to the categories under which firms featured and fines running up to Dh30,000 in addition to the suspension of their transactions and notifying identity in newspapers, he added.

A seminar was organised on the sidelines of the campaign launch and attended by the ministry's top officials and representatives of a host of firms. Ismael Mohammed from Al Futtaim group of companies remarked that the ministry's inspection did not seem to have a clear mandate from the ministry. In reply, Humaid bin Deemas, the ministry's assistant under-secretary explained that companies could get 80 per cent of their work done in shady areas provided they extended workers timely breaks and took all the required safety precautions.

“The construction sector in the country has 916,000 workers who represent 40 per cent of the total workforce. The increase of workers in this sector dictated that the ministry gives priority to organising their affairs and protect their rights,” bin Deemas said.

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