Revision of salary may yield minimum wage

A salary review for construction workers in the UAE, which is expected to take place within the next two months, could prompt the introduction of a minimum wage.

Cash conflict: strikes by construction workers
Cash conflict: strikes by construction workers

A salary review for construction workers in the UAE, which is expected to take place within the next two months, could prompt the introduction of a minimum wage.

Last week, the UAE Cabinet instructed the Ministry of Labour (MOL) to collaborate with construction companies to revise workers' salaries.

The move followed two major strikes in the last few weeks, one of which was held by Arabtec workers on the Burj Dubai.

The assistant undersecretary of the MOL, Humaid Bin Deemas, has said that the ministry would prepare a study to ensure that the rights and interests of workers and employers are
equally protected.

"Workers from Arabtec, Mr Deemas and I, have discussed what the main problems were [that resulted in the strike]," said BS Mubarak, labour consul,
Indian Consulate.

"Mr Deemas has decided to collaborate with the main construction companies to review workers salaries."

Mubarak added: "This is the first time the MOL has decided that an increase in salary is a must for construction workers. Mr Deemas promised the workers that they would see a rise in their salaries within two months, and that no company would be able to pay less than the sum decided upon."

According to Mubarak, the undersecretary suggested a basic minimum salary of US $163 (AED 600) a month, but added that a sum would have to be agreed on after consultation with construction companies.

"I think it's an excellent move to increase the salaries of these workers," said Ani Ray, country head, Simplex Infrastructure.

"With the recent currency drop, workers' salaries have been cut by around 15%. The salaries should be raised by at least 20% - or a minimum of $270 a month."

Ray added that a minimum wage is needed to retain labour. "India is booming and it's getting harder each day to recruit workers. This new salary revision will probably set a minimum wage."

Deemas told the WAM news agency last Sunday that the MOL is determined to eradicate the practice of withholding workers' wages, labelling it an unacceptable and illegal form of exploitation.

He said the ministry also planned to intensify inspections of workers' accommodation complexes, admitting some of the housing facilities are sub-standard and do not meet UAE regulations.

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