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Site death sparks Sonapur protest

1,000 labourers demonstrate after the death of a co-worker, and are warned against striking for no reason

More than 1,000 workers from Dubai Contracting Company (DCC) staged a demonstration at their Sonapur labour camp in Dubai, following the site death of a co-worker.

Murad Ali, a 30-year-old Pakistani construction worker, was electrocuted while working on the Millennium Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road last week.

The man lay unattended for over an hour before an ambulance arrived on site, according to co-workers who spoke to Construction Week.

“We are all worried about working now because accidents happen all the time, and the least they can do for us is to provide adequate first aid and safety so that we don’t lose our lives,” said one of the workers, who did not want to be named.

The workers also demanded a salary increase when officials from the recently formed Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs arrived at the camp.

But the contractor has hit back at the allegations. “We are a very old company, we treat our workers well and we have never encountered a strike like this before,” said Iyad bin Khadra, personnel manager at DCC.

“Firstly, striking is no way of asking for a raise in salary and secondly, the person who died on site was attended to as soon as we could get an ambulance over. The ambulance itself took about half an hour to get to the site. We couldn’t help that.”

The workers ended their protest the following day and went back to work after being told that the company was reviewing their salaries, and that the family of the victim would be fully compensated.

A spokesperson for the Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs dismissed the protest as pointless. He said: “I don’t see any reason for the strike to be honest. I think it is totally unnecessary.”

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