UAE: one of the terrible ten worst countries for workers’ rights
The United Arab Emirates has made the ITUC’s list of the ten worst countries for workers’ rights abuses, and it’s not hard to see why when you look at the plight of the country’s army of migrant workers.
Non-national workers make up more than 88 per cent of the population in UAE. Migrants are excluded from labour law and endure forced labour, with excessively long hours, seized passports and changed contracts a part of working life. Migrant workers in UAE also don’t have the right to join a union or go on strike, so those that speak up risk prison and deportation.
Non-nationals are often prey to extreme exploitation: unpaid wages, excessively long working hours, passports confiscated by the employer, changes upon arrival to the contract they signed before leaving, etc. As domestic work is not covered by the labour legislation, domestic workers are even more vulnerable than migrants in other sectors. Many say they have suffered physical and sexual abuse, in addition to the exploitation migrants are usually exposed to. As migrant workers do not have the right to join a union or go on strike, they don’t have the means to denounce the exploitation they suffer. Those who protest risk prison and deportation. The pay protection system that has progressively been set in place since 2009 obliges companies to pay their workers’ wages via electronic bank transfer that the authorities are able to verify. This measure has not been enough to prevent delays in the payment of wages however, notably because the Labour Ministry’s resources are far too meagre in face of the number of migrants.
The Terrible Ten:
At the ILO conference earlier this month, the International Trade Union Confederation launched its 2015 Global Rights Index, detailing the ten worst countries for workers’ rights abuses in the world, and reporting in detail violations in those and many more. Stronger Unions is profiling one of the terrible ten each day.