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New rules to iron out worker disputes in UAE

Minister says main reason for worker sit-ins is salary non-payment

Strike action disrupts business and creates tension between the workforce and management. Photo: Getty, for illustration only.
Strike action disrupts business and creates tension between the workforce and management. Photo: Getty, for illustration only.

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UAE officials have introduced new rules designed to cut the number of worker sit-ins, ensuring swift resolutions to disputes between workers and employers.

The moves were announced by HH Lt.General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who said the main reasons for worker action centred on delayed salary payments. The minister also said there had been a 50% drop in worker sit-ins nationwide during the first half of 2011.

Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Chairman of the Higher Committee for Labour Crises Management, said Sheikh Saif's approval of specific methodology to address workers' sit-ins highlights the government's policy to stand with workers demanding their lawful rights under a framework that guarantees return of rights to original claimants and preserves security.

“The mechanism is tasked with identifying and diagnosing diverse causes and dimensions of workers' sit-ins - whether peaceful or not- in order to find adequate solutions to them without compromising workers' rights nor security and stability of the UAE, a host of 215 nationalities working and living in a serene atmosphere of security, stability and tolerance,” he explained.

Tamim, who is also Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said, teams would act quickly should a dispute occur. Teams will be set up to be on-site within 15 minutes, while specialists are expected to arrive within 45 minutes to gather preliminary inputs about the cause of the sit-in and co-ordinate between the workers and company representatives to arrive at an amicable solution.

“The mechanism will be the sole trouble shooter of workers' sit-ins but it will differentiate from the workers demanding their legitimate rights or rioters who damage public properties and intimidate safe members of the community in a way that serves none of the disputing parties.”

Tamim said there had been 30 sit-ins reported in Abu Dhab (14), Dubai (10) and Sharjah (6) for the first half of 2011, compared with 57 in 2010 (Abu Dhabi 21, Dubai 26 and Sharjah 10).

In Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, he added, sit-ins dropped to 1 and 3 from 3 and 6 respectively for the quarters under review.

“While no sit-ins were reported in the emirates of Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain during the January-March 2011, Fujairah saw one sit-in and Umm Al Qaiwain two in the first quarter of 2010,” he noted.

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