• Non-payment of Wages

UAE Cleaning Staff

I worked at a school in Al Ain town, UAE, between 2010 and 2012. During that time, I regularly met school cleaning staff whose passports had been taken away, in violation of the law, whose salaries were much lower than they had been contracted for before coming, who often did not receive their pay on time, if at all, and who worked 16 hours days, 6 days a week. I often observed workers at a mall construction site near my house who, despite having a lunch break, were working in 50+ celsius, also in violation of the law. I saw maids being beaten publicly at the mall multiple times. Taxi drivers (silver taxis) in town all had the same stories of having their passports taken away and of needing to repay their debt for the ''visa fee'' they paid to come here (often 10,000 dirhams), making them indentured slaves. My stories could continue, but these were common knowledge and common happenstance. I heard darker stories continually but did not witness them and cannot speak to their veracity. However, since so much of the above happened openly, it doesn't take much for me to believe this was the tip of the iceberg. Never did I see any formal action taken by the authorities, even after reporting some of the legal infringements.