Is Deportation the Answer ?

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Oct 31 2007

October 31st - Kuwait Times Report

Four Thousand Asian Laborers in Dubai are reportedly facing expulsion after they staged illegal strikes at the weekend over poor wages and working condition in the booming gulf city state. The authorities in the United Arab Emirates tool the decision after several thousand manual workers downed tools and reportedly occupied and vandalized a building before attacking police and vehicles with stones. Such protests are rare in the UAE, where strike action is outlawed and workers are not allowed to form labor unions. Officials did not say when the mass deportation would occur "The appropriate bodies have been contacted to carry out the necessary measures" (for their deportation). “The Laborers do not want to work and we will not force them to"

On Sunday the strike spread to three other areas in the city state, with the local press reporting 3100 workers involved but police moved in and returned the strikers to their accommodation blocks.

According to officials cited by local media, the protesters were demanding an unspecified increase to their wages which average between 600 and 1000 Dirham ($ 140 to $270) a month, improved transport to construction sites and better housing.

The labor ministry had head and was about to act upon, the requests from the laborers for things such as better housing and more buses, but their central demand was for higher wages which is against the law' one official said.

Predominantly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the laborers travel thousand of miles to work in the region so they can send money to their families. An estimated 700,000 Asians work as construction workers in the UAE where fewer than 20 percent of the four million populations are UAE citizens. In March last year. 2,500 laborers rioted at the construction site of Burj Dubai, set to be the world tallest skyscraper. Some destroyed vehicles and equipment.

The incident prompted the New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to issue a statement calling on the UAE government to "end abusive labor practices" describing labor conditions as "less than Human"

The above is an excerpt from the article on today’s newspaper,

Finally the workers are beginning to talk for themselves; they have realized that there is no greater strength in battling their conditions then in joining forces together. Kudos to them...

Increasingly we are seeing a trend, strikes and protests which were unheard of in gulf countries, beginning to crop up everywhere, this is surely a sign to all the governments in the gulf that change of their archaic laws is needed. How can demanding for higher wages be against the law? This is outright suppression. However though no human rights organisations are intervening, and 4000 workers may be deported. Workers and laborers have become fearless against the government's restrictions and are demanding their rights. This may very well be a trend that will catch on throughout the gulf and force governments to take notice.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East