Plan to recruit site workers from single labour agency

Recruitment agents say new organisation will not be able to cope with the number of applications

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  May 13, 2006

India and the UAE have agreed a deal to establish a central labour supply agency in a bid to stamp out rogue agents. Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, told Construction Week that a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the two countries to establish the organisation. “The UAE labour minister Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi and I have reached an agreement in principle, and expect to work out the details of the draft very soon.” He also said that the government is currently working on amending the 1983 Indian Immigration Act. All recruitment agents will be pooled under this act and any defaulters will be given a jail sentence. “The new decision, when enforced, will mean that construction companies will have to approach a single agency to recruit workers. This agency will work under the UAE government and handle all the recruiting activities taking place in the UAE. “Agents in both the UAE and India indulge in malpractices and Dr Al Ka’abi has assured me that the UAE will tackle this problem here by introducing the new system.” He also said that India is planning to launch a massive nationwide campaign, especially in rural areas, to increase awareness about the activities of unscrupulous recruitment agents. Plans for the new agency have drawn a sceptical response from local recruitment companies. Sohail Vakil, general manager of Al Vakil Recruitment Services, said: “This idea has been floating around for the past year and it’s never going to happen because it is not feasible. “Even if they do implement it, it will take at least another two or three years to get things into order.” He added that a central labour agency would struggle to process the huge number of workers required to supply the booming construction sector. Last year approximately 194,000 unskilled and semi-skilled workers from India entered the UAE. Mohammed Jindran, managing director of Overseas Labour Supply Company, another recruitment agent operating in the UAE, said: “This could turn out to be a big mess as one company based here would not have any control over agencies based in India.”

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