The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

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Indian Labourers in Dubai to get a new Code of Standards

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Well we’ve been a little obsessed with the Goldstone Report over here recently, which is all fine and dandy really because it’s kind of a big deal. There’ll be more to come on it but now for something slightly different.

The cause of migrant rights in the Gulf is a long standing one and there has been a lot written recently about the exploitation of migrants and the adverse working conditions under which they labour. For more of a background on the issue, I suggest you visit Mideast Youth as they do a lot of work and have some great information about the issue.

Having lived and worked in the Gulf myself, it’s an issue that I’ve come face to face with on numerous occasions, and the disparity between rights and lives of migrant workers in the Gulf is really quite confronting.

However, it seems changes may be afoot, as Abu Dhabi’s the National reports:

A set of minimum standards covering working and living conditions is to be introduced to protect Indian labourers from exploitation, and companies that breach them face action from the UAE and Indian governments.

In the Emirates, offending employers could be fined, banned from hiring expatriate workers or have their businesses downgraded.

While these changes are being worked out by the Indian and Emirati governments, meaning they will only be enforced on behalf of labourers from Indian (and not labourers from other countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, etc.) it is still an important step forward.

India’s ambassador to the UAE, Talmiz Ahmed, explains that these standards are not focusing on wages, or attempting to implement a minimum wage system, but rather more focused on living conditions:

“You may get good wages, but if you are living in squalid conditions, without air conditioning, eating inferior food or having to do long hours of compulsory overtime, you won’t be happy. So, living and working conditions are as important for me as minimum wages.”

There isn’t any word in the article when exactly these conditions will come into force or, indeed, how stringently they will be enforced. However it seems any implementation this year is unlikely as:

The embassy is looking for a company to prepare the software for the programme in time for it to be presented at the next conference of Indian ambassadors in New Delhi in November.

Mr. Ahmed also notes that increasingly, due to the economic downturn’s adverse effect on Dubai, more Indian labourers are leaving Dubai and heading for Abu Dhabi.


Written by alexlobov

September 19, 2009 at 5:00 pm