Monday, November 05, 2007

Labor Conflicts in Dubai

Sources: Financial Times: Dubai Threatens to Deport Striking Labourers

Many South Asian laborers have refused to return to work due to disagreements over pay and working conditions. However, the government instead of considering these laborers needs, have threatened to deport the strikers. The government has considered the strikers a threat to the security and safety of the state. The strikes have taken place at a few engineering companies that rarely face such political issues. Even though the government has threatened to deport these laborers, other organizations have attempted to reform these labor issues. “The UAE has launched a government reform drive to tackle the issue of workers’ rights, raising the number of labor inspectors to uncover malpractice.”

Although there has been some effort for reform, human rights organizations claim that such efforts are insufficient for change. Dubai has taken some serious leaps towards reconstructing their land, which may be the reason for such severe government reaction against strikers. Engineers on strike may be considered a threat to Dubai’s economic development.

Organizations have recently come together to gather recommendations to create more efficiency in labor in the UAE. One proposition is as follows: “They would set up agreements with the workers’ home countries, and explore ways of formalizing a system for collective bargaining.” This is a good move forward because the organizations are at least recognizing a need for immediate change. The UAE must find a beneficial medium between “international standards” and “national interest.”

Discussion question:
Can Dubai continue to produce economic growth without the security of foreign labor?

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