MoL rejects Human Rights Watch report

The UAE minister of labour, HE Dr Ali Abdulla Al Kaabi has defended the country's efforts to improve workers' rights saying that even though problems exist, it is doing everything in its power to solve them immediately.

DEFENDING: Worker rights in the UAE are being taken seriously
DEFENDING: Worker rights in the UAE are being taken seriously

The UAE minister of labour, HE Dr Ali Abdulla Al Kaabi has defended the country's efforts to improve workers' rights saying that even though problems exist, it is doing everything in its power to solve them immediately.

"We have made a lot of progress on the labour rights issue including the issue of workers' salaries, accommodation, the problems in the recruitment process and basic rights," said Al Kaabi in an interview with Construction Week.

Al Kaabi made the comments in support of his advisor, Alex Zalami, who earlier accused New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), of issuing a poorly researched report on the labour situation in the UAE.

But HRW has refuted these claims, and said it carried out extensive research when compiling the report.

Nisha Varia, senior Asia researcher, HRW said the body had conducted interviews with many workers and had submitted recommendations to the government along with the report.

"Our research was absolutely thorough," said Varia.

"We had people here doing their own research. They spoke to workers, NGOs, charity groups and even officials from the ministry of labour, so I think it's wrong to say that our report was not researched."

The HRW report was also dismissed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The IOM's director general, Brunson McKinley said that the HRW ‘sometimes gets a little confused'.

Kaabi added that the ministry was open to positive criticism.

"We would even welcome some of their (HRW's) ideas," he said.

"My only concern with them is that you don't come and take an example of 60 illegal workers and then generalise it and say that this is the situation in Dubai. Sixty out of 1.2 million construction workers is hardly a good example. And they only talk to the people who are in grievance, why? They put themselves in that situation because they're illegal workers, so they're obviously going to have complaints.

"If the human rights bodies want to contact us, I say come. We'll work together because we want to benefit as well. And if there is an issue we will deal with it in a positive manner, collectively.

"We've made so much progress - they have to look at the positive side as well. Yes, there are minor and major issues that we're working on, but we are getting there."

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