Workers playing basketball at spacious Al Rostamani staff accommodation in Sonapur. Image Credit: VIRENDRA SAKLANI/Gulf News

Dubai: Workers in Dubai have started following the proper legal procedures to preserve and claim their legal rights, an official of the police’s human rights department has said.

Thanks to Dubai Police’s continuous public awareness campaigns at camps, workers have become more familiar with their rights and the proper legal procedures that are required to resolve a labour dispute, said Lt Colonel Saeed Rashid Al Helli, Head of Temporary Employment Conditions Control Section at the General Department of Human Rights.

Lt Colonel Al Helli was speaking at an event organised by Dubai Municipality, which was observing the World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2016, a campaign of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

“Dubai Police have been working closely with workers through different platforms and extensive awareness campaigns at camps that have helped workers protect their rights and claim their salaries. This has reduced the probabilities of workers resorting to unlawful methods,” he said.

‘Workplace Stress — A Collective Challenge’ was the theme chosen this year by the ILO for the annual campaign, and Lt Colonel Al Helli explained how delays in giving workers their wages was found to be the top cause for stress at work worldwide.

This stress, he said, might cause workers to refrain from carrying out their jobs or tasks. But in the UAE, this is no longer the case, as the workers now trust their concerns would be addressed and issues resolved legally, he said.

“Through our electronic platform, free line (launched in 2005), and smart app, workers have not had to resort to illegal approaches and have been able to fully understand the country’s laws. They simply lodge their complaints and get immediate responses for any of their enquiries. We realised that in the previous years, when such issues used to surface, it was because workers were not fully aware of how they can claim their rights.”

In addition to that, he said, police patrols visit workers’ camps to assess their situation and to ensure their workplace conditions are up to the standards. Brochures are also distributed in different languages at camps.

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of complaints received through these services increased significantly. In 2014, there were 233 group complaints and 1,174 individual complaints, but only 35 workers refused to work until their wages were given.

“There has been a growing trust between workers and our department because of the direct communication. This trust increased from 87 per cent in 2011 to 93 per cent in 2015. Complaints are being addressed within 45 minutes of receiving them,” Lt Colonel Al Helli said.

“Special attention is given to group complaints, as any delays in addressing them may lead to labour strikes and riots which could cause severe damage and financial losses.”Compensation to workers for delayed wages amounted to Dh319 million between 2009 and 2015, a matter that is being taken very seriously, he added.

As part of the event organised by the Public Health and Safety Department of the municipality, lectures discussing the reasons for stress at the workplace and its negative consequences on health and behaviour were organised.

“We are here today to cover the most vital issues for safety of workers, with a special focus on stress, which is a huge topic that needs to be communicated to everyone at the workplace,” said Raed Al Marzouqi, head of occupational health and safety section at Dubai Municipality.

“We came out with new handouts and brochures for both employers and employees about stress, its causes and how it can be avoided at the workplace. We have a special focus this year on the handicapped and the elderly and the difficulties they can face.”

Al Marzouqi said more than 130,000 people will receive the posters and brochures through the e-government service of Dubai, including more than 30,000 industries and companies.