Dubai: The Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs (PCLA) in Dubai has reiterated its commitment to collaborate with private and social organisations to consolidate the UAE’s and Dubai’s drive to implement progressive labour policies that integrate global best practices.
Major General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai) and Chairman of PCLA, said the committee continues to pursue workplace campaigns and community initiatives throughout the year to further improve workers’ standard of living and working, aligned with Dubai’s strategy to set new standards in labour welfare. “We have carried out several successful initiatives throughout the years, aimed at raising the welfare and happiness of workers in Dubai,” bin Suroor said.
Training and awareness programmes
The PCLA chairman highlighted the workers’ awareness and training programme, a project that the committee introduced in 2016 in collaboration with the Middle East Centre for Training and Development. The programme, aimed at ensuring workers know their rights and duties, has trained more than 70,000 workers so far. It covers an extensive range of topics including UAE culture, labour and immigration laws and regulations, health and safety, and channels of government assistance.
The preliminary results of recent surveys conducted by PCLA demonstrate a significant increase in workers’ knowledge across all topics covered. Awareness among workers about residency and labour laws in the UAE increased from 19.75 per cent before the training to 88.63 per cent upon completion. Knowledge of the various types of UAE Government support channels rose from 10.66 per cent to 88.3 per cent, while the percentage of correct answers on health and road safety issues increased from 19.6 per cent to 91.9 per cent. Workers’ understanding of the UAE’s culture and acceptable and unacceptable behaviours increased from 23.25 per cent to 88.46 per cent.
Multilingual and multimedia content
Abdulla Lashkari Mohammad, the Secretary-General of PCLA, said that during the COVID-19 crisis, the committee supported workers in overcoming the impact of the pandemic by adapting the programme. The campaign content was translated into multiple languages to cater to Dubai’s multi-lingual workforce. Following the containment of the virus, the programme continues to raise health and safety as well as labour rights awareness. It is offered in four languages: English, Arabic, Urdu and Hindi.
Dr Ahmed Al Hashemi, consultant to the PCLA and managing director of the Middle East Centre for Training and Development, said: “The training programme is based on scientific and academic criteria and is implemented according to international standards of human and labour rights protections. It aims to maintain the stability of the contractual relationship between employers and workers and prevent labour rights abuses.”
The PCLA has so far focused on blue-collar workers within the construction sector and targeted managers of companies and supervisors of labour accommodations. The committee is also focused on training workers in the delivery sector and plans to target larger categories of workers over the next few years.
Worker wellbeing in focus
The committee’s initiatives also include programmes and events dedicated to the wellbeing of migrant workers and raising their living standards. Earlier this month, the committee organised the Eid Al Adha festive initiative with Dubai workers under the slogan ‘We celebrate Eid together’.
Bin Suroor also highlighted another initiative launched by the committee at the beginning of this year, which includes distribution of free meals to workers every Friday. The campaign was launched in cooperation with its strategic partner Beit Al Khair Society, a charity foundation, and Dubai Charity Association, a charity and humanitarian aid agency. The number of free meals distributed by the PCLA in cooperation with its partners on Fridays has surpassed 65,000. More such initiatives are set to be launched in cooperation with the private sector.
Abdulla Lashkari, PCLA’s Secretary-General, added that the committee had prepared an integrated plan to distribute free meals in all labour accommodations, in cooperation with the private sector. He said the PCLA prioritises the interests of workers and strives to implement labour best practices that protect workers’ rights.