US $445 suggested as minimum wage

A poll conducted by Construction Week on the 'ideal minimum wage in the GCC', has revealed an average salary of US $445 (AED1635) per month. People interviewed for the poll included contractors, consultants, architects, lawyers, embassy officials and construction workers.

Most contractors interviewed by CW spoke in favour of an official minimum wage.
Most contractors interviewed by CW spoke in favour of an official minimum wage.

A poll conducted by Construction Week on the 'ideal minimum wage in the GCC', has revealed an average salary of US $445 (AED1635) per month.

People interviewed for the poll included contractors, consultants, architects, lawyers, embassy officials and construction workers.

The lowest suggested minimum wage was $245 per month in addition to free accommodation, while the highest was $954 per month in addition to free or subsidised accommodation. The most frequently suggested amount was $272 per month.

All labour sending countries to the GCC are considering the introduction of a minimum wage for their citizens.

These include the Indian government, which is working to establish a minimum wage for its workers in the GCC as well as Bangladesh, which has already introduced a minimum wage of $147 in Saudi Arabia.

The Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmed, said that there is already a minimum wage of $165 in the UAE for unskilled Indian workers, but that hasn't been updated since 2005.

Most construction companies in the UAE already have an in-house minimum wage policy in place and are in favour of the introduction of an official minimum wage.

Bishoy Azmi, general manager, Al Shafar General Contracting said: "We have no objection to the introduction of an official minimum wage, because at the moment the minimum wage we're paying our workers falls between $218 and $272 per month anyway.

Similarly, Besix also has its own in-house minimum wage and is keen on the possibility of an official minimum wage. "We already have an in-house minimum wage policy," said Philippe Dessoy, general manager, Besix.

"But the introduction of an official minimum wage is very important for the market and growth of the economy as it protects everybody's interests. There needs to be a law in place as it will only promote confidence and professionalism within the industry.

According to Dessoy, the in-house minimum wage at Besix is $250 per month in addition to food and accommodation.

Talks of a minimum wage first surfaced when strikes by construction workers started to hit the UAE, with Arabtec and Besix being among the biggest firms to be affected.

"When our workers went on strike last November, we saw it as an issue for the whole industry. The consensus was that we should have a minimum wage," said Riad Kamal, chairman, Arabtec.

Respondents were asked to consider various factors, including the rise in the cost of living in the region and the weakening of the US dollar.

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