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| 18 February, 2018

UAE launches dos and don'ts guide for foreign workers

New guide is available in Arabic, Urdu and English.

An Asian construction labourer drinks water under the blazing sun to avoid dehydration and sunstroke at a construction site in Dubai, August 20, 2002. REUTERS/Anwar Mirza

An Asian construction labourer drinks water under the blazing sun to avoid dehydration and sunstroke at a construction site in Dubai, August 20, 2002. REUTERS/Anwar Mirza

In a move to progress human rights in the country, the UAE has launched its first labour guidelines to enlighten the almost one million workers here on their rights, duties and the law. It also seeks to curb relevant violations.

Announcing the innovative handbook, Major-General Obaid Mohair bin Surour, deputy director of the General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), said the new directory is available in Arabic, Urdu and English.

"The pioneering guidelines, to be distributed for free to over 1 million workers in Dubai, is a model for all workers here to properly start their practical life in line with the country's laws."

The move comes shortly after the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs (PCLA) in Dubai unveiled the details of a planned smart app to help the emirate's labourers remain in touch with them, and be fully aware of their responsibilities and rights.

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Outlining violations clearly

Bin Surour added that the new guidelines will help labourers protect their own rights and follow the law and regulations. "We are keen to prevent any violations of workers' rights, and help them be duly responsible and correctly understand what they should and should not do, because some are not aware of the law."

Bin Surour explained that the most common crimes committed by workers include working for someone other than their sponsors - this draws a hefty fine of Dh50,000.

"Overstaying their visa and drug trafficking may land the worker in life imprisonment; drug abuse gets four years jail, and murder can lead to a life sentence."

Other crimes include absconding, rioting, theft, robbery, illegal consumption of alcohol, perjury, gambling and arson, he elaborated.

Through the new guidelines, workers are also taught about personal safety at worksites and the importance of using protective equipment such as safety helmets, ear protection, goggles, safety boots, dust masks, hi-visibility jackets and other equipment, Bin Surour noted.

"We also want workers to be fully aware of their rights regarding working hours, overtime, salary, medical benefits, days off, public holidays, end of service benefits, and accommodation allowances, in addition to others."

Putting workers first

Bin Surour, who is also the PCLA chairman, said the labour reference book, prepared by specialised committees under the supervision of the Dubai Government and Legal Affairs Department, consists of three main sections.

"These are 'Welcome to the UAE', 'Know your duties and responsibilities', and'Enjoy your time in UAE'.

"Although the handbook will eventually be given to the 1 million workers, the PCLA will initially distribute it to 100,000 workers at the Dubai medical fitness centres' training centres - mainly in the Al Muhaisana and Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) areas."

Bin Surour said the director will help labourers mingle with society, be in proper communication with others, know the UAE culture, and learn how to get official support if needed. "Dubai's workers will be aware of due safety procedures at worksites, in a way that has a positive impact on the labour market of the emirate, and meet its 2021 plan to be the best place for living and working."

The official noted that the intensive awareness campaigns have successfully developed worker's awareness by over 40 per cent. This is due to direct communication with the workers via competent trainers in Arabic, English and Urdu.

PCLA will also focus more on recreational activities for the workers in its 2018 training plan.

KT NANO EDIT:Towards transparency

The UAE has come a long way when it comes to the rights of workers. It remains an attractive destination for people from other countries as it undertakes a series of reforms across sectors in a diversifying economy. Transparency defines its policies and this labour handbook ensures workers are protected under law and not exploited by unscrupulous agents and employers.

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