Thousands of employees at the largest construction firm in Dubai went on strike for the second straight day in demand of back wages. The strike is a very rare protest by labor in the Gulf Emirate. Unions in the Emirate are banned and therefore striking is something that is quite rare.
Blue collar workers at Arabtec, the company that has built projects such as Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, did not come to work Sunday, said a company spokesperson. That was confirmed by the laborers themselves and the labor ministry of the UAE.
Employees at the construction company said on Saturday they started the strike and workers are hoping maintain the strike until they receive a pay rise.
One employee explained that the employees are upset over the low wages and that they are not paid for their overtime wages. One employee said workers on the site where he works are paid up to $190 per month.
The majority of blue collar workers in the different Arab states on the Gulf are migrant workers and are hired on for contracts, from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. That makes it even rarer when a strike occurs.
Dubai’s migrant workers usually are employed at extremely low wages compared to Western standards and housed inside dormitory style accommodations near the edge of the city.
The work stoppage was confirmed by a subcontractor saying he had to call workers from one work site in Dubai after the Arabtec laborers failed to enter work on Sunday.
A spokesperson from Arabtec said the company was working to get the situation resolved as soon as possible. The labor ministry said that Arabtec was paying the contract workers what had been signed for and that the accommodation facilities were in compliance.