New rules aim to protect workers

Labour ministry set to enforce fresh standards for salary payments and accommodation.

Image Credit:Francois Nel/Gulf News
Labour Minister Saqr Gobash addresses the symposium on labour and human rights in Dubai on Sunday. He said companies will be given a grace period to meet standards.
Gulf News

Dubai: The Ministry of Labour is set to introduce new rules for labour accommodation standards and a fresh mechanism to ensure payment of salaries, to protect workers' rights and improve their conditions.

Speaking to the press at the sidelines of the labour and human rights symposium, Saqr Gobash Saeed Gobash, Minister of Labour, emphasised that payment of workers' salaries and dignified living conditions are fundamental principles for the ministry of labour.

In order to safeguard those rights, the ministry will introduce a set of new measures such as the adoption for new criteria for labour accommodation and a requirement for companies to pay workers' salaries through banks.

"The new criteria will be in line with international best practices. No new labour accommodations will be built if they do not meet the new criteria and existing ones will be given a grace period to meet the standards if possible, while those that cannot meet the standards will have to go," said Gobash.

The duration of the grace period is outlined in the new rule.

However, Gobash did not reveal how long the grace period will be but said that it is not an overnight change and it will take time before all labour accommodations in the country are inline with the new criteria.

The proposal has been submitted to the cabinet and it is in the final stages of being approved, according to Gobash.

During one of the sessions at the symposium, Renaud Detalle from the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the UAE to take advantage of the rights organisation's special rapporteurs of labour accommodations standards.

However, Gobash said the new criteria is comprehensive and is in accordance with international best practice.

"The real challenge is not the criteria but how we can transform all labour accommodation in the country to be in line with the criteria," said Gobash. The features of the new criteria were however not disclosed.

The ministry is also working closely with the central bank to develop a new mechanism to ensure that workers are paid on time and that the ministry will be able to check if workers salaries have been deducted, according to Gobash.

"All companies will have to pay salaries through banks but we will start with the low income workers as they are the most vulnerable for exploitation," said Gobash. Currently, there about 500,000 workers who receive their salaries through banks, according to ministry statistics.

"So far we have faced problems trying to get all companies to pay salaries through banks as companies cited difficulties in finding banks which are willing to open accounts for low income workers," said Gobash adding that the situation will change with the help from central bank.

Meanwhile, a new plan for 'flexible' labour market policies to deal with the global financial crisis is to be submitted by the Ministry of Labour to the Cabinet.

Gobash said the main feature of the plan is to create flexible labour movement within the country and reduction of charges when recruiting manpower from within the country.

Bank studies claims refuted

The Minister of Labour on Monday denied that the country is witnessing a mass departure of foreign workers and that the population is falling due to the financial crisis.

Workers are merely being sent home for holidays, Labour Minister Saqr Gobash Saeed Gobash said, rejecting recent bank and consultancy studies predicting the population in Dubai will shrink by 17 per cent in the coming year.

A new plan for 'flexible' labour market policies to deal with the global financial crisis is to be submitted by the ministry of labour to the cabinet, he said.

Gobash said the main feature of the plan which will create flexible labour movement within the country is reduction of fees when recruiting from inside the country as well as making sure not to grant work permits for people abroad if there are people with the same expertise in the country.

Gobash said the ministry issued 662,000 work permits in the period between October 2008 and March 2009, while only 405,000 permits have been cancelled. These figures "show an increase..." in the number of expat workers.

Agencies with inputs from Wafa Issa, Staff Reporter

Your comments

please ensure the salary was given in time for postponement of justice is denying it
Posted: April 28, 2009, 19:07

Great decision
Posted: April 28, 2009, 18:48

It is great initiative from the ministry of labour and I hope it is very helpful for the worker who don't get there salary on time. I hope these new rules be strictly implemented very soon.
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 28, 2009, 18:03

This is a great news and great achievement of the Labor Minister. Implementation must be ASAP.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 17:42

At the end of the day hard work is being done through the common man. very happy to hear that Labour Ministry's Concerns to the Workers welfare.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 16:41

Well done Mr. Gobash! Its really fruitful for those who do not get salaries on time.
Tasawar Hussain
Posted: April 28, 2009, 16:39

Thanks for Labour Minister to announce the rule, it helps workers to receive their salary on time. But how to control from employer to bank?
Mohammad Tayyab Seddiqi
Posted: April 28, 2009, 16:18

This is an enhance development in the country for the workers who work hard to build the beautiful country in the world. When i saw the news paper i felt very happy, because those who were facing trouble will get what they need. i am sure they will be very happy to hear this news. Thanks for the ministry to great development for the workers.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 16:16

Thanks for this great news, hope for the implementaion as soon as possible.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 15:45

Actually its good news and I am thankful to the labour minister. Because he improved the accommodation standards as well as people getting their salary on time.
Mohammad Ishfaq
Posted: April 28, 2009, 15:42

Anyway its good to hear that the labour ministry has made some new laws. But they should try to implement the laws that they made as soon as possible, and should also take some effective measures to monitor its implementation phase.
Shaikh Farooque
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 28, 2009, 15:23

I really appreciate the efforts commitment of Labour Ministry towards workers who face problems.
Md Reyaz Uddin
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 28, 2009, 15:18

Taking care of labour problems thus would boost the morale and motivate the workers for better productivity. This new law will put the confidence of workers.
Agniyah Shaikh
Posted: April 28, 2009, 15:08

It's very nice that authorities are concerened about the people's welfare. Well done
Abu dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 28, 2009, 14:39

This is great news to read that all the low income workers who have being facing difficulty in receiving salaries in time. Many thanks to the labour Ministry who have decided to implement the above rule in a short span of time.
Shaikh Akbar
Abu Dhabi,
Posted: April 28, 2009, 14:18

I am thankful to the ministers because there are so many people who have problems and they are not getting paid.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 14:12

That is actually a good move. I would like to use this opportunity to bring the attention of the officials to one traffic bottle neck in Sharjah. there is a U turn and a lot of sub roads coming to Emirates Road. During last week there were two police officials to control the traffic movement and thus the traffic in this area was very smooth. But unfortunately there is no police officials there during this week. and this makes things horrible and today i took two hours to get out of the traffic. At the same time I would like to appreciate one police officer who is standing near the Emirates Road exit. He is a really good man and a committed officer. This officer would be on duty from 6.30am onwards, and this makes the traffic movement realy great.thanks.Nishanth.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 14:01

It's a great achievement of UAELabour Minister.
Oommen Philip
Posted: April 28, 2009, 13:38

It's a very good approach from the labour ministry. One thing I want to mention here is that banks giving out too many credit cards, personal loans etc.
Kazi Rakibul Hasan
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: April 28, 2009, 13:14

This rule is very good for workers if the do not get their salaries on time.
Mohammad Waheed Iqbal
Posted: April 28, 2009, 12:11

Hi, I heard that prices of food products are being ruduced. However, still I am not finding it in any shop or supermarket.
Amir Sultan
Posted: April 28, 2009, 11:57

Thank you for the concern of the authorities for workers' welfare. I myself am a victim of delayed salary. As of today I haven't received my March salary and only last week I received my February salary. Having family to support back home is quite difficult to have delayed salary. Many of my friends have the same dilemma. We hope that these new rules be strictly implemented soon.
Posted: April 28, 2009, 11:33