Dubai protest: Contractor ‘not obliged’ to pay incentives

Arabian Construction Company says ‘no one will be deported’ after strike of estimated 200 workers

PHOTO: A member of Dubai Police addressing the workers at the protest on Tuesday morning. Credit: Dubai Media Office

The employer of hundreds of workers involved in a protest near Dubai Mall on Tuesday morning says it is “not obliged” to pay incentives, the main cause of the strike.

Riot police were called in during the rare pay dispute, held by employees of the Arabian Construction Company working on Emaar’s Fountain Views development.

Workers – mainly from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India – had complained that their overtime pay had stopped.

Some told local media that their pay had almost halved to $136-$163 a month; other workers said they are now being paid $285 instead of $381 a month for the same number of hours.

READ MORE: Riot police called in over workers’ strike near Dubai Mall

Hassan Auji, general manager at Arabian Construction Company (ACC), said that the workers’ demands were not legitimate, and that it was within its rights to cut back on incentives.

“Their main complaint was on incentives – which, by law, we are not obliged to pay,” Auji told Reuters.

Auji told the 7DAYS newspaper that workers had misunderstood the company’s temporary “incentive scheme” – under which it made extra payments to hasten the construction process – and confused it with obligatory payments for overtime.

He also said the protestors’ complaints about food allowances, medical services and transportation had been resolved and did not have merit, Reuters reported.

Trade unions and public strike action are both prohibited in the UAE and several other Gulf states, but there have been sporadic protests over pay and conditions.

Auji said that his company would not seek to deport or punish the estimated 200 workers that held the protest.

“There is no punishment, no one is being deported. We care about our staff. But we are also not going to allow our arms to be twisted by such incidents,” he told 7DAYS.

READ MORE: Riot police called in over workers’ strike near Dubai Mall

The Dubai Media Office said the protest was quickly resolved by police.

It quoted Maj Gen Khamis Al Muzaina, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, as saying that the police presence “was a standard precautionary measure to maintain order & ensure public safety.”

“Workers were promised that their demands will be carefully considered,” he was also quoted as saying.

The Address Residence Fountain Views is developed by Emaar, which told that it had consulted with the contractor on the project regarding the strike.

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