A large group of construction workers staged a protest in Downtown Dubai on Tuesday after their company stopped all overtime work and cut off the extra pay.
According to media reports that quoted bystanders, hundreds of workers from Emaar’s Fountain Views project gathered at the Boulevard area in the morning, temporarily blocking the road.
Heavy traffic was reported in the area due to the workers’ strike, with a large group of police officer present to contain the protest, according to eyewitnesses.
Dubai Media Office tweeted later that the issue was resolved peacefully by Dubai Police within an hour.
Dubai Police also said that it is working with the contractor to resolve the workers’ issues and affirmed that their “rights will be preserved”.
Major-General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Commander-in-chief of Dubai Police added that the police presence was just a normal precautionary measure to ensure the public safety.
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Officials did not disclose the terms of negotiation or whether they agreed to workers’ demands.
But a later report by Reuters quoted one of the workers as saying the company cancelled over-time work, an important source of extra income for construction workers. Employees can pocket as much as Dhs1,100 in overtime pay, almost double their basic salary of Dhs500, he said.
“We don’t have overtime work any more so we’re striking. I’m not afraid to ask for my rights,” the worker said.
Arabian Construction Company (ACC) is the main construction contractor of the Fountain Views project. Although the company did not disclose the latest terms with the workers, a representative was quoted by Reuters as saying that the workers’ demands were not legitimate.
“Their main complaint was on incentives – which, by law, we are not obliged to pay,” Hassan Auji, ACC’s general manager said.
The company clarified that it continued to pay workers for some overtime but had to cut back their incentive pay that was given to speed up work but which was not necessary at this stage.
Workers had also raised some complaints about food allowances, medical services and transportation, all of which were also resolved, Reuters reported.
Labour strikes in Dubai have been sporadic in recent years with the government taking a number of steps to regularise wage payments and quell dissatisfaction among blue-collar workers.
According to a report released by the federal government, the number of labour strikes fell by 25 per cent to 34 in 2013 from 45 in 2012.
Although no official figures are available for 2014, considerably fewer strikes were reported across construction sites.
Last year, over 5,000 workers from an unnamed construction site in Dubai staged a protest against sub-standard conditions at their accommodation. The dispute was resolved after the employer agreed to their demands for refrigerators and more toilets in the camp.