UAE labour force has 3.11 mn foreign labour from 202 nations

Sunday, 27 April 2008, 07:00 Hrs
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Dubai: Workers from 202 countries form the 3.11-million-strong foreign labour force in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to new figures.

The report for 2007 released by UAE's ministry of labour said a total of 3,113,000 foreign workers were employed by approximately 260,000 establishments in this Gulf nation.

Though the report did not give a nation wise breakup of number of workers, Indians form a vast majority.

Of the around 1.5 million Indians in the UAE, 800,000 to one million are estimated to be working as labourers, mostly in the booming construction industry here.

The new report said the UAE has made great progress legislating and enforcing the rights of its labour force.

"These rights affect every aspect of workers' lives and have been carefully researched and measured against international standards. Rapid growth and labour rights are not incompatible, and the UAE is working at every level of government and the private sector to show that its progress in both is evolving into a model for the region and elsewhere," the report stated.

Pointing out that the UAE relies on an ever-increasing number of temporary foreign workers from labour-exporting nations, the report said: "The ministry of labour records show that the expatriate workforce is made up of nationals from 202 countries. The UAE is continuing to evolve its legal standards and enforcement policies to accommodate this fast-growing population."

During 2006 and 2007, the UAE pursued active bilateral cooperation with labour exporting countries by signing MoUs with several Asian countries including India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, Thailand and the Philippines.

"The purpose of bilateral agreements is to encourage these countries to tackle the problems of illegal recruitment agencies," the report stated.

In order to combat labour practice that place the rights of workers at risk, the UAE government has adopted a number of key initiatives including officially extending the right of workers to transfer employer sponsorship to all labour sectors in order to facilitate job movement.

The government has created bank guarantees that earmark funds for worker compensation.

The interior ministry "made it illegal for employers to withhold workers' passports. Certain employers had continued this practice, despite efforts by relevant authorities to enforce the prohibition.

"The ministry of labour cancelled new licenses for foreign labour brokers and recruiters who cannot demonstrate full compliance with the law.

"The UAE has also signed memoranda of understanding with labour-source countries to combat illegal practices by labour brokers and recruiters in these countries," the labour ministry report stated.

In 2006, said the report, annual remittances by expatriate workers from the UAE were estimated to be around $16 billion.
Source: IANS
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