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08 November, 2006

Labour pain relief

The sentiment is commendable, it's just a shame it has taken this long:

Dubai: All necessary measures must be taken to ensure the rights of expatriate workers are protected and their living and working conditions are significantly improved, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has ordered authorities yesterday.

This part is particularly significant:

And in a groundbreaking move, [Sheikh Mohammed] instructed the Naturalisation and Residency Department to implement special contracts between domestic workers (servants and housemaids) and their employers that limit their working hours and grant them their full rights.

Sadly, too many domestic workers are treated at best as serfs, at worst as slaves by some families. Contracts is a start, but outsourcing their sponsorship to a government agency or recruitment firm would be better.



Blogger Dubai Entrepreneur said...

The government should absolutely be the sponsor in such a case. A third party agency will make matters even worse. Have you even dealt with one of those things? I don't know how they are in Dubai, but I do remember a case of a runaway maid where the agency caught up with her. They brought her in. The notified us. When we arrived, they told us she was in the room next door and we can go in and beat the living hell out of her until we are satisfied.

Well, all we wanted was to get the paperwork over with so we are no longer liable for her. Why she 'ran away' was a different story. It appears that an older British man has been going around promising maids in the suburban neighborhood that he would marry them and so they say screw this job and off they go.

So, back to the point. No, the government needs to take responsibility or quite simply deny such visas in the first place.

08 November, 2006 08:14  
Blogger Balushi said...

I have made a Better Thread than this one Secy!

Let me see what does the gov. has to say about this!

08 November, 2006 10:02  
Blogger ssosw said...

The government should first get rid of the concept of sponsorship if they want to change the slavery in this country. If you are not free to go out and get another job then you are a slave.How can you consider your self free when you risk being thrown out of the country if you lose your job.You are forced to suck up to the job you hate and work in inhumane conditions.Some are lucky to get a break, but majority of the people here suffer in silence. Sponsorship is what makes this place a haven for slavery.Even white collar workers are restricted and often suffer due to the slavery laws of this country.

08 November, 2006 10:20  
Blogger dontfearfreedom said...

Surely if a person is enslaved by their 'employer/sponsor' it would be better for them to leave the county anyway?

Surely there is a choice there so it cannot be called slavery?

08 November, 2006 10:31  
Blogger LadyOnTheTop said...

shk mo also warned those individual and firms who exploit labourers.

how about fix a 'minimum salary ' for a start? i believe of all the issues concern labourers, salary is what concern them most.

my company pay bangladesh labourers dhs450 a month !!

but i guess they wont, because that would expose their exploitation to the world.

2 days ago on arabic version of khaleej time it mentioned the authority was discussing to unify holidays for both public and private sec, not a word in english newspapers, guess they dont want to stir up some voice.

08 November, 2006 11:09  
Blogger ssosw said...

There you go again with the " if you dont like it leave " shit for brains attitude .These labourers dont have an option of leaving.The employers/sponsors take advantage of that and that is what makes this slavery.

08 November, 2006 14:52  
Blogger dontfearfreedom said...

You said it yourself; "you risk being thrown out of the country if you lose your job"

Easy then; slack off a bit, call in sick too much, date the bosses daughter and Bob's your uncle; lose your job and get kicked out of the country.

08 November, 2006 15:30  
Blogger click_310 said...

[...]date the bosses daughter[...]

That might lead to the person vanishing into thin air.

08 November, 2006 16:48  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Surely if a person is enslaved by their 'employer/sponsor' it would be better for them to leave the county anyway?

They cannot just leave. With employers illegally holding passports, and failing to pay salaries, how on earth are they supposed to? Quite apart from the fact that many got themselves into debt just to come here (again through the illegal extortions of employers and recruiters).

08 November, 2006 17:50  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

Dubai stock exchange lost over Dhs 2 Billion this week.

While most stock markets across the world are booming, Dubai has lost over 11 billion over the last month or so.

Our "booming" city. sigh

08 November, 2006 18:39  
Blogger marwan said...

"They cannot just on earth are they supposed to?

In reference to that; I remember an interesting story. About a year ago I took my PRO to labour. While hanging around outside waiting for him to finish, I ran across this one labourer by himself.

Turns out his entire company had been closed down and everyone had been repatriated - except him. His sponsor had agreed to meet him in labour and sign the release paper.

That was three months ago.

Everyday since, that man has been coming to Labour and from 9am to 2pm waiting patiently outside, hoping against hope that the local will appear and sign his release.

That must be a circle of hell Dante forgot to write about.

08 November, 2006 21:12  
Blogger Mme Cyn said...

A noble sentiment, Secret, but like most brain storms that blow around like the shemal here, it will never be enforced. Until and unless there is someone forcing employers to treat their domestic servants like human beings, those contracts will be only so much toilet paper. Slavery may have been officially abolished here in the 1960s, but the slave owning mentality is still very much alive.

09 November, 2006 00:17  
Blogger Dubai Entrepreneur said...


Unfortunately, this laborer (and many others) don't seem to realize that they should simply head to their embassy or consulate to sort them out.

The law appears to be a way to appease the WTO and human rights agencies to pave the way for some new agreements to be followed. I surely don't think the ruling family or anyone in the government for that matter is interested in mistreatment of labor. I just don't think this will solve anything, much like others have reacted. Contracts are a waste of paper.

09 November, 2006 08:38  
Blogger marwan said...

Dubai Entrepreneur:

I know. I told him that. Not sure if he believed me, but haven't seen him there since.

09 November, 2006 09:02  
Blogger Balushi said...

I am remember that Saying by Winston Churchill..

He said I instructed myself to go on a Deit But When I went to sleep and woke up the next day, I completely forget about it!

Well lets see If our Sheik is the same!


one more question! - Shouldnt the labour rights be an Obvious thing rather than an special thinking or idea by a sheikh?

09 November, 2006 11:57  
Blogger ironcurtain24 said...

Slavery may have been officially abolished here in the 1960s, but the slave owning mentality is still very much alive.
.... i fully agree with that sentence.. IC

09 November, 2006 20:01  
Blogger Wobblydangly said...

Today's Emirates Toady front page was a classic from the Winston Smith school of Journalism. Apparently workers here are far better off and the government are just trying to make things even better for them. Ínterviews (no doubt with a select few) showed that labourers here had far more rights and priviledges than the do in their own countries. Ever heard of two wrongs don't make a right?

10 November, 2006 12:51  
Blogger aussie70 said...

This is great news for insurance companies ! and a red carpet to the WTO. The insurance will be paid by you ofr your maid , gardener , house boy etc... some people are going to resent paying so the boy's in blue will end up forking it out of their small pockets. Next step is VAT.... it is coming soon

10 November, 2006 18:47  
Blogger GCCBee said...

Off comment but Dubai beach perverts make the venerable NY Times below --


November 12, 2006
Dubai Swats Pests Ogling Beach Beauties
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 11 — Temperatures have dropped from blazing hot to balmy, the turquoise waters now have a refreshing chill and the sand is just about bearable to walk on.

As winter arrives in this Persian Gulf city, the masses are thronging by the tens of thousands to its white sandy beaches, wearing, in an unlikely exercise in maritime coexistence, everything from black flowing abayas to slinky bikinis.

Thronging right alongside them are Dubai’s “beach pests,” the gangs of men who trudge through the sand, fully dressed, to ogle the women.

Mostly laborers at the front lines of Dubai’s building boom — toiling on manmade islands, innumerable high-rises, even a dome in the desert for the world’s largest indoor snow park — they flood the beaches every weekend to leer at women, photograph them and occasionally try to grope them in the water.

“They pretend to take pictures of their friends, but they are really taking pictures of you,” said Anika Graichen, 23, a German hotel receptionist who has lived here for three years. She lay on the beach last week trying to ignore various groups of men who passed by with their eyes locked on her.

She is almost used to them now, she said. “I think I can understand it,” she said. “It’s the only place they can have a look at women.”

Indeed, for the estimated 500,000 foreign workers here, most from the Indian subcontinent, the chance to spot a woman in a bikini may be hard to pass up.

They typically live in a Dickensian world of squalor, working 12-hour shifts six days a week, often denied their wages of about $150 per month for months at a time. Most of them secure work by taking out loans from recruiting agencies at home to get here, forcing most to stay on for years without seeing their families and loved ones. The workmen have become prevalent in Dubai’s public parks and beaches as their numbers have swelled, and because of the lechery-on-the-beach factor, they are especially noticeable at this time of year.

They tend to beachcomb in groups, their camera-equipped cellphones always at the ready. Many do not know how to swim; some enter the water wearing their traditional robes, made of thin white cloth that becomes transparent when wet — and reveals far more of their anatomy than most beachgoers want to see. Incidents of physical harm to women are rare, though the police have arrested flashers and men committing lewd acts in public.

On Friday, Saifi, a metalworker who would give only his first name, walked along a beach with four friends, pausing from time to time to look around and chat. All in their mid-20s, the men were dressed in jeans and slacks. Saifi’s bright orange shirt made him impossible to miss.

“I come here almost every weekend,” he said. “This beach has no problems, but the others have become more problematic for men.”

He meant the police. He said that he was stopped at another beach two weeks earlier.

“The police said to me, ‘Why are you here, why aren’t you wearing a bathing suit?’ ” he said. “Then they told me to leave.”

With a giggle, he admitted that the cause for his eviction was that he had been staring at women.

“Every man looks at a woman in a bathing suit when he sees her,” he said. “What can I do? I’m a normal man.” At a ladies-only day at a local beach earlier in the week, Nisrine Ben-Stitou, 28, a Moroccan citizen who moved here and works in a clothing store, said the harassment was such that she no longer went to the park or the beach on the weekend.

“Some people take pictures, which makes me crazy, or they stay and they watch you,” Ms. Ben-Stitou said. “I went one time, and I said I will never go back. I feel so free in this country and I feel safe, but what happens on the beach — I don’t know why the authorities don’t do something about it.”

Dubai officials, keen to attract tourists to the beaches, say they are trying. They have vowed to crack down with a security plan that includes plainclothes officers and a “three-strikes policy” aimed at keeping out the worst of the offenders.

“The goal is to get people to use the beaches for what they’re meant to be used for,” said Brig. Khamis al-Mazeina, director of Dubai’s Criminal Investigation Department, which polices the harbors and beaches. “There are naturally people who create problems and who are ignorant, but we intend to deal with them.”

Mr. Mazeina said his department had built new watchtowers to scan the beaches and added 35 undercover policemen to patrol as beach bums, looking for the first signs of trouble. Though many workmen fear being barred outright, Mr. Mazeina insists he intends to protect their rights, too, by ensuring that they are treated with courtesy and respect.

“When they see people hanging around for no reason other than to harass women or to try to speak with them, police are authorized to take action,” he said. “We want people to feel secure on our beaches, and we can easily spot people who are not there for the beach. We’ll be watching and if we see anything we will be getting involved.”

On a recent day, plainclothes officers stood atop a watchtower as several officers approached a man who had been photographing a group of women. The man and several of his friends were quickly brought up to the air-conditioned watchtower.

“If we see someone taking pictures like that, we are going to demand to see the photos,” said one officer, who identified himself only as Abdullah because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. He took the man’s camera phone and began flipping through the photos. “We would then delete the suspect photos and give him a warning.”

If the men are spotted taking photos again, Abdullah said, the police will make a formal notice; on a third episode, they will be barred from the beach.

The police say they have arrested more than 500 people under the new policy, the vast majority of them on immigration violations, and several more for outstanding warrants. But 15 were detained, according to police department records, for “a breakdown in public behavior.”

“You try to scare them a bit just to get them to stop,” Abdullah said. “Ask him, ‘What are you going to do with this picture? Would you like it if someone was photographing your sister?’ That’s usually enough to get the point across.”

Nada El Sawy contributed reporting.

12 November, 2006 14:08  
Blogger LocalExpat said...

One thing the previous article does not explicitly mention is that the UAE has the highest disparity between the male and female population( 66 men 33% female according to uae census 2006).. So what you say?

Well i personally think that it is not the labourers fault for gawking at women when they rarely see a women( forget about actually being with one). And no matter how taboo sexual tendencies are in this region you cannot deny that they are basic biological instinct innate to every human being. When the labourers do not see their wives for months on end and only interact with men 6 days a week, the one hour they get to look at women is a normal reaction of a systematic failure in this society.
I am not justifying their actions, I am only trying to be empathic.

13 November, 2006 14:43  
Blogger janbiya said...

Hey I give thy freedom. You can go back to anonymous comments.
No more sexual insults.

14 November, 2006 02:40  

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