Government plans special court for low-income labour disputes

Revamped court system aims to reduce the volume of complaints filed by low-income workers and resolve cases quicker

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By  Rhys Jones Published  April 17, 2004

A special LABOUR court is soon to be set up in the UAE to tackle low-income labour issues. According to insiders, the move has been prompted by the recent spate of wage disputes in the construction industry, which has seen thousands of disgruntled workers march on the Labour Ministry. The new system aims to reduce the volume of complaints filed by low-income workers against employers and secondly, to tackle cases quicker. “The idea was introduced earlier but a lack of resources at the time did not allow us to put it into effect. However, we are in a position to put it together it soon,” says Matar Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. No timetable for the creation of the court has been finalised. However, the Labour Ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Awqaf to set up the institution across the UAE. One of the UAE’s leading construction recruitment firms predicts that when implemented, the proposal will driver contractors clean up their act. “I think it’s definitely a good thing for the workers because it will make companies behave themselves and hopefully pay salaries on time,” says Sohail Vakil, recruitment manager, Al Vakil Recruitment. “Companies will probably be wary of this court because workers could start complaining about every little thing,” continues Vakil. “You could have troublemakers making false claims, so the court will have to be discriminating and just deal with major issues.” Meanwhile, amendments to the bank guarantee rules have been approved by the cabinet and will be implemented at the start of next month. The revised regulations hope to tackle the number of payment complainants from labourers, through a shakeup of the bank guarantee system. Under the new rules, private companies and establishments operating in the UAE have to deposit a bank guarantee amount before renewing the labour cards of old employees who were recruited before the implementation of the revamped system. The cabinet’s decision obliges all private companies to deposit Dhs3000 for each worker they hire, provided the amount is not deducted from his salary or entitlement.

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