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Landmark ruling on worker rights

Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum this week ordered the Minister of Labour, Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi, to introduce mandatory health insurance for all site workers

Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum this week ordered the Minister of Labour, Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka’abi, to introduce mandatory health insurance for all site workers.

It is just one of several sweeping changes introduced to improve the working and living conditions of construction workers.

And it comes just days ahead of the release of a report from US-based Human Rights Watch that is critical of the treatment of foreign construction workers employed on building sites across the UAE.

Under the new rules, the Ministry of Labour will be required to intervene in cases where workers’ salaries have been delayed for two consecutive months.

“Labourers should be allowed to change the place of their work if they want, without any obstacles, if they meet all required conditions as per the laws of the country and the labour ministry,’’ said Sheikh Mohammed.

Sheikh Mohammed has ordered the setting up of a labour court to look into the grievances of labourers, as well as an inspection agency that will be part of the Labour Ministry.

The agency will absorb 2,000 inspectors who will cover all sites and labour camps across the UAE. The agency’s mandate will be to ensure that “all laws and regulations pertinent to human rights are in place” and to protect the rights of labourers.

The Human Rights Watch report, due to be published tomorrow, attacks the “wage exploitation” of construction workers in the UAE.

Construction Week has seen an exclusive copy of the report, which makes 11 key recommendations aimed at improving the treatment of site workers.

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