An important reminder emerges as the UAE observes Labour Day 2019

Physical safety must be a priority in construction, but the UAE’s initiatives remind us why ensuring well-being is as important

Neha Bhatia is the editor of Construction Week.
© ITP Media Group / Rajesh Raghav
Neha Bhatia is the editor of Construction Week.

Labour Day – or International Workers' Day or May Day, as it is known in some countries – was recently celebrated around the world, with notable construction companies in the UAE also recognising their workforce on 1 May.

For instance, days before Labour Day, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, oversaw an event organised by his ministry, named Together in the Emirates of Zayed. The ceremony was held in collaboration with partners from Workers’ City in Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, as reported by UAE state news agency, Wam.

Addressing the audience during the event on 26 April, Sheikh Nahyan said: “The United Arab Emirates deeply appreciates your contributions to its development and progress. Our country has been built upon the skills and hard work that you, your brothers and friends have given to the UAE.

“On this Labour Day, we thank you for your excellent work and unfailing efforts to make the UAE a country that is peaceful and welcoming to everyone. The UAE shares its history with all of you.”

The private sector was not far behind, and various Gulf-based businesses – such as Aldar Properties, Havelock One Interiors, and Damac Properties, among numerous others – took to social media to commend their staff’s contributions to the regional built environment.

Outside the digital world, facilities management and security services outfit Transguard Group – an Emirates Group company – announced on 29 April that its G+7 staff accommodation in Jebel Ali had noted progress, adding that 10,000 of its employees would inhabit the complex upon its completion later in 2019.

In the UAE, Labour Day celebrations coincided with the launch of Tharaa, an initiative backed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and the country’s National Bonds Corporation, with the aim of providing expatriate labourers a platform for financial stability.

Tharaa will see monthly fixed deductions being made from the workers’ Wage Protection System account, with the amount to be decided by the labourer during their stay in the UAE, the corporation explained. Benefits such as annual profits and third-party micro-financing will be offered to worker, as will the option to participate in National Bonds’ monthly and quarterly reward programmes.

GUIDE: Understand WPS, and what UAE law says about salary delays

The UAE’s Labour Day initiatives reiterate the importance of holistic worker management programmes. In a high-risk industry such as construction, physical health and safety must undoubtedly be the top priority for stakeholders. However, as the UAE’s initiatives around Labour Day have shown, ensuring staff wellbeing is an equally important responsibility that construction employers must remember to fulfil at all times.

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