Arabtec workers riot over delayed water deliveries

Three thousand workers employed by Arabtec Contracting Company staged a protest last Sunday which turned violent.

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By  Tim Wood Published  July 9, 2006

Three thousand workers employed by Arabtec Contracting Company staged a protest last Sunday which turned violent. Workers went on the rampage after water supplies to their labour camp in Arabian Ranches were delayed. Protesters damaged cars, heavy plant machinery and watertankers, camp fences, and broke into an office where they smashed up computers. The labourers were complaining that there was no permanent water supply to their labour camp, with Arabtec using water tankers instead. On the day of the protest it is understood that one water tanker was stuck in a traffic jam, which meant it arrived 30 minutes later than scheduled. Rashid Al Jumairi, a member of the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs, said: “We contacted company officials and instructed them to hold a meeting with us to discuss the issue. If it has a problem in bringing water in tankers in daytime it should find an alternative. “The majority of the workers who have recently been protesting water shortages have done so unjustifiably. Such as this case where a temporary problem with water supplies prevented the company from providing water to its workers. “Workers are not allowed to stage violent protests. It is against the law of the country. If they have any grievances there are different channels to sort it out. They should not damage the property of others and should not be violent,” he said. Mohammad Daha, projects manager, Arabtec, was unavailable for comment as Construction Week went to press. Last month, workers from Al Hamed Development Company rioted in their labour camps in Jebel Ali following weeks of water and electricity cuts as a result of essential maintenance work being carried out by DEWA. The company’s Muslim workers were unable to say their daily prayers due to the water shortages. Prayers are considered invalid and meaningless unless washing can take place before hand.

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