Regional first as Vietnam workers hit Gulf projects

TAV tests out multi-skilled workers on Majestic Tower in Sharjah as Vietnamese recruitment hots up

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  July 1, 2006

Vietnamese labourers are the latest nationality being drafted in to work on the region’s construction projects. The emirates of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman are all seeing a rapid increase in the number of workers recruited from the South East Asian country. Mohammed Jindran, managing director of Sharjah-based recruitment firm Overseas Labour Supply, confirmed: “While companies here mostly prefer labourers from the Indian subcontinent, there are skilled workers coming in from Vietnam such as carpenters, masons and steel fixers.” One reason for this influx may be the UAE Ministry of Labour’s bid to impose greater cultural diversification within the country’s migrant labour force. “In addition to Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Nepali, people here are selecting Vietnamese to help make up the balance,” said Jindran. Another key reason is better pay prospects. “Vietnamese get very basic salaries at home and may make less than half of what they’re paid here,” he added. According to Jindran, a semi-skilled Vietnamese worker in the UAE is paid US $215 (AED800) to $240 per month, the same wage as Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistanis. Turkish firm TAV Gulf, the main contractor on the 52-storey Majestic Tower in Sharjah, employs Vietnamese workers who make up around one-third of the project’s labourforce. According to Ani Ray, regional director, this is the first time the company has recruited Vietnamese labour for a project in the region. “We’ve brought around 50 Vietnamese to the project on an experimental basis because we don’t know yet if they will cope with the Middle East environment, the heat and the standard of living. If they are successful, we will bring in more Vietnamese labour.” Ray adds that so far he is pleased with how the new workers are shaping up — especially seeing as they tend to be multi-skilled. “Normally when we bring people from India or Pakistan they have a specialised field i.e. a mason is a mason, or a carpenter is a carpenter, and if you give them some other work they often don’t like it. “But the Vietnamese labourers are multi-skilled so you can give them any work — they know the work and are happy to do it.” The deciding factor, however, will be how they perform in the UAE’s high summer temperatures. “In the summer months they’re not used to these high temperatures so we’re using them mainly for indoor work in the shade such as masonry and concreting work,” said Ray.

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