Keeping a tab on violators

The Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs (PCLA) successfully tackled more than 110 protests involving more than 81,500 labourers of various nationalities in Dubai last year, said Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department, (DNRD), and head of the PCLA.

By Mary Nammour (Our staff reporter)

Published: Fri 28 Mar 2008, 11:31 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:50 PM

Maj-Gen. Al Marri said he was quite satisfied with the performance of the committee. “The committee consists of six members apart from me. In addition, there are 17 inspectors affiliated to the PCLA chosen from the Economic Department, Dubai Municipality, Ministry of Labour (MoL), DNRD and the police,” he said.

The PCLA inspectors were carrying out an average of 50 inspection visits each month to the labour accommodations in Dubai to check on the living conditions.

“We intend making around 100 visits each month. The inspections are meant to check on the living conditions in the labour accommodations. We need to see if there is a compliance with the safety and hygienic standards. If there is any remark or any complaint pertaining to the labour density of the accommodation, misuse of kitchen or lighting, then we ask the company’s officials to set things straight. Usually, we get response from company officials concerned,” Maj-Gen. Al Marri explained.

He noted that during inspection visits to the labour accommodations, the inspectors listened to the complaints of the labourers. “The complaints may be pertaining to unpaid wages, delayed wages, unpaid overtime, absence of medical insurance and other rights stipulated in their work contracts. We follow up on these demands till they are fulfilled,” he pointed out.

Maj-Gen. Al Marri noted that the committee would soon open PCLA extension centres in the areas where most of the labour camps are, for instance, Al Quoz, Al Ghusais and Jebel Ali. Al Ghusais Centre would most probably open in April.

“We are looking to be up close to the labourers’ demands as much as we can. Hence, we can listen to their complaints and remarks and intervene when possible to correct any injustice that may be have been done to them,” he said.

Apart from following up on the living conditions and welfare of the labourers, the committee is keen on providing entertainment and sport activities for the labourers. Cricket and volleyball tournaments were recently organised and cash prizes were distributed to the winners.

“We want to make the labourers feel at ease as if they were in their own countries. We will always try and seek ways and means to make their working conditions as much easy and good as possible,” he emphasised.

The PCLA was formed in February 2005 on the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Last year PCLA had played a major part in verifying the companies’ compliance with the midday break rule in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour (MoL). It also took part in the conference on drug awareness for Western Asia and North Africa.

Missions hail UAE efforts

Diplomatic missions of South Asian countries have hailed the efforts of the UAE Government for ensuring protection of labourers’ rights in the country.

Indian Consul-General in Dubai Venu Rajamony said both India and the UAE were working together to uplift the welfare of labourers and to ensure the protection of their rights.

“India has started implementing stringent measures to curb the malpractices of recruitment agents in India. Similarly, the UAE Government has introduced several measures to change the lives of workers,” said Rajamony.

He pointed out that the decision of the UAE Government to introduce mid-day break for workers during summer and payment of workers’ salaries through banks were effective and helped the workforce.

“The Indian mission and Ministry of Labour officials have started joint visits to labour camps. Both the Indian mission and the UAE Government are working together to resolve the issues of the Indian expatriate workforce,” Rajamony said.

Sri Lankan Consul-General in Dubai Wasantha Senanyake lauded the UAE government’s responsiveness to labour issues. “Their efforts are very positive when it comes to migrant labour. Compared to many countries, the UAE is rather responsive and wants to help labourers,” he said.

He added that the MoUs the UAE Government had signed with various Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, last year reflected its “keenness and commitment” to work with governments of labour-supplying countries.

Mohammed Rais Hasan Sarower, First Secretary in the Bangladeshi Consulate in Dubai, said though the UAE government had come up with a lot of steps to improve the conditions of the labourers, there was always scope for raising the standards even higher.

“The government of the UAE, the local governments and other relevant organisations have always worked hard to ensure that the labourers have a good life and they get all the rights. The frequent inspections of the labour camps, steps to ensure that the labourers have a bank account number and their salaries are credited to their accounts etc., have been helpful in raising the living standards of the workers,” he noted.

“The UAE Government has given strict instructions to the construction companies to provide healthy living conditions to the labourers. Many companies not following the rules have been heavily fined, too. These steps are evidence that the government wants the labourers to get their rights in accordance with the international laws set for the labour force,” he added.

Dr Shehzad, Welfare Attache at the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said that the labour conditions in the country were improving rapidly. “The Pakistani labourers play a major role in the UAE. At present, there are over 800,000 Pakistanis in the country and the majority of them are workers, and in this regard we have to stay in touch with the government officials and company representatives as well on several occasions. We have noticed that the government has taken positive steps and the response is even greater,” he said.

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