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UAE sees sharp rise in labour rights cases

UAE sees sharp rise in labour rights cases

Authorities say the increasing number of cases follows efforts to facilitate legal procedures for workers

The UAE has seen a sharp rise in labour rights cases since the start of the year, Abu Dhabi’s Judicial Department has said.

The National cited officials as saying number of cases filed with the public prosecution over unpaid wages had increased from 10 in 2017 to 22 from January to March 19 this year.

The country has also seen a surge in work injury cases, with 26 filed so far this year compared to 48 for the whole of last year and 90 in 2016.

Officials said the 26 cases so far were likely to triple by year-end, according to the publication.

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department head of prosecutions, Hassan Al Hammadi attributed, the increasing number of cases follows efforts to facilitate legal procedures for workers.

These include a new mobile court bus that travels to labour camps to allow workers to register lawsuits.

Read: Low-income UAE workers must be given free accommodation – ruling

Hundreds of workers have had their cases processed under the system.

Authorities say that more workers have also been educated about their rights under a new service worker law. A list of amendments to the law will be released soon before its implementation, officials said.

In some cases employers have been fined up to Dhs5m ($1.36m) for not paying wages.

The announcement by the Abu Dhabi prosecutor comes following increased scrutiny of labour conditions in the region after the Philippines banned the deployment of its workers to Kuwait.

This followed several instances of abuse including the murder of a maid whose body was found in an apartment freezer.

The Philippine government is now seeking greater rights and protections for its workers in Kuwait and the wider Gulf region.

Read: Kuwait court sentences couple to death for Filipina freezer murder

The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said earlier this week it had no plans to introduce a minimum wage in the country as part of worker protections.

“The government remain of the view that a free labour market, based on supply and demand, creates the optimal conditions under which we are able to continue to welcome thousands of guest workers to the UAE every year, while simultaneously fostering sustainable economic growth,” the ministry said.

Read: UAE has no plans for minimum wage

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