Indian labour force on the wane

Recruitment diversifies as workers stay at home to take part in construction boom on the subcontinent

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  September 16, 2006

Contractors in Dubai are diversifying their labour force as fierce competition between construction firms places a strain on the supply of workers available within the emirate. Skilled labourers traditionally recruited from India to work in Dubai are increasingly being supplemented with workers from countries such as Vietnam, China and the Philippines. “Recruitment of a good labour force is becoming a big issue for most of the construction companies here,” said Ani Ray, regional director, TAV Gulf. “Getting the right quality of people is becoming really difficult. It’s been happening for the past year but it has become harder over the last six months – the solution we’re currently looking at is to diversify our labour force with Vietnamese,” adds Ray. Recruitment problems have forced rates up in key trades. Bishoy Azmy, deputy general manager at contractor Al Shafar, said: “The cost of internal plasterwork used to be around eight dirhams per square metre and now it’s around 16 dirhams – that is all in the cost of the workmanship.” Elsewhere in Dubai, Khansaheb is using a mixed-nationality labour force. “The availability of labourers from India is not as freely available as it used to be,” said Richard Browne, operations manager, Khansaheb. “We now have Vietnamese labourers as well as Pakistani, Nepali and some Filipinos.” According to Mohammed Jindran, managing director of Sharjah-based recruitment firm, Overseas Labour Supply, much of the shortage of skilled Indian labourers is a result of India’s own booming economy. “Demand within the Indian construction sector has gone up massively, and good, experienced workers do not want to come to Dubai anymore. “An experienced mason, for example, can earn $11 per day in India – that’s far better than he can earn in Dubai, and he’s still living with his family.”

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