Villa tragedy: Push firms to ensure workers’ safety

THE horrific tragedy of 10 Indian workers getting charred to death in a Dubai villa on Tuesday has turned spotlight on the issue of labour accommodation in the emirate and how some firms continue to flout safety regulations and laws of the country.

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Published: Thu 28 Aug 2008, 10:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

This is not the first incident of its kind. There have been several such tragedies involving labour accommodations in the past. And every time precious lives were lost because of the gross failure and violation by some firms of basic safety norms and prescribed living condition for such residences.

Every time something like this happens, the media, the authorities and companies concerned do some perfunctory grand-standing and then move on. Seldom has there been any follow-up mechanism to ensure such tragedies do not recur by ensuring better safety standards and living conditions for the workers.

Look at the latest tragedy. The 30-room, two-storey complex housed more than 500 workers. That is more than 20 people in one room! That will perhaps qualify for a mention in the Guinness records. How was that allowed to happen? Ok, the unfortunate workers with their meagre wages might not have a choice. But how did the landlord allow the firm to house so many people in such cramped conditions? And how come the authorities failed to notice such a housing accommodation? Goes without saying it was a disaster waiting to happen.

It is high time the authorities got real tough with the individuals and firms that are playing with people's lives bringing bad name to a world class city like Dubai.

In his initiative unveiled two years ago, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had put special emphasis on the best working and living conditions for labourers and low-end groups of workers. That vision of the UAE leader demanded the firms to take care of their workers' needs as they should be: according to global norms and standards. The authorities have to now push all firms and employers to follow that vision. And there must be action against those who fail to fall in line, if we are to prevent more tragedies in the future.

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