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KT edit: UAE is committed to protect its workforce

Filed on June 16, 2020

(KT file photo)

The welfare of blue-collar workers remains the focus as summer sets in. A respite from the heat is welcome for three months as they build a country that can weather crises.

A happy workforce that feels safe and wanted is critical to the growth of any economy. They are the building blocks who need to be protected for the progress of a country. The UAE realised many years ago that it must protect its workers from extreme conditions and any form of exploitation. Middlemen and touts have since been weeded out under a new e-migrate system. Then, there are conditions at work and also accommodation. The heat during the summer months can touch 50 degree Celsius at times. Summer is here during the pandemic and the UAE has not stepped back from its commitment to foreign workers who toil in the sun to build the many imposing buildings and structures the country is known for. Over the years, labour reforms have been rolled out and the country has remained an attractive destination for blue-collar workers who flock to its shores to boost their savings by working in a humane environment. The UAE was the first country in the region to introduce a midday break during the summer months from June to September. It was a progressive idea back in 2004 when it came to fruition. Under the rule, workers at outdoor sites are not required to work from 12.30 till 3pm during these months. The rule has gained more teeth over the years with regular inspections. Companies that violate it face stringent fines from Dh5,000 to Dh50,000.

The UAE, meanwhile, has been working with labour-exporting countries to ensure workers arriving here are paid fair wages and are not taken for a ride by agencies. The recruitment process has evolved over the years and is more transparent. Conditions in shared accommodations are among the best in the world. Firms recruiting labour have to abide by the laws or could be blacklisted if any breach in procedure comes to light. The labour law covers every gamut of recruitment; it is comprehensive which makes it unique and pathbreaking in the Middle East, and serves a template for other countries. It covers hiring, community accommodation, hygiene, safety, rents, and other aspects of life. The Wage Protection System ensures workers get their due and salaries are deposited in specially created accounts. The speed of these reforms has been remarkable and has picked up since 2016. More reforms are on the way as the UAE charts out an early recovery from the pandemic. The welfare of blue-collar workers remains the focus as summer sets in. A respite from the heat is welcome for three months as they build a country that can weather crises.

 


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