4,000 protest over camp charges

Bu Haleeba labourers coordinate massive demonstration, which was felt from its Sonapur to Jebel Ali camps

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  March 25, 2006

Four thousand workers from the local Bu Haleeba Contracting Company staged two coordinated demonstrations at the company’s Jebel Ali and Sonapur labour camps last week, in a row over electricity and water charges on site. The workers claim that the company deducts about US $9.5 (AED35) per month from their salaries as soon as they join the workforce to enable them to use the utilities. One worker at the Sonapur camp, who did not want to be named, said: “They are not supposed to deduct electricity and water charges as it is meant to be provided at the company’s expense.” It is further alleged that workers are charged $54 per month for food at the canteen whether they use the service or not. “Due to the inedible food served there, most of us chose to cook our own, which resulted in them banning cooking inside the camp. “Even though most of us don’t eat in the canteen, they are still deducting the money from our salaries,” the worker added. Both demonstrations began at 9am on Thursday 16 March and carried on through most of the afternoon. More than 1500 workers at the Sonapur camp surrounded three police vehicles and demanded to see the owner of the company. Workers at the Jebel Ali camp were also protesting over being forced to take holidays. One, who refused to be named, said: “The company forces us to take leave when it has no work for us. “They ask us to stay off work for up to a month at a time when they don’t have enough projects to work on and then use that as an excuse not to pay us for that period of time.” Dubai Police and Bu Haleeba refused to comment on any of the allegations.

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