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Excerpts from UAE Dailies

Friday only official off day for private sector

DUBAI — 14 Aug: Friday, with effect from September 1 this year, will be an official weekly holiday for the private sector, but it is up to the employer to grant his staff an off day on Saturday, Dr. Khalid Al Khazraji, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Labour clarified yesterday.

Private companies can grant their employees one more weekly holiday according to their nature of work, but as far as the ministry is concerned, the employee should get atleast a day’s weekly holiday.

Friday and Saturday will be weekly holidays for the government sector, at both federal and local levels from September as per the resolution issued by the cabinet in this regard, Al Khazraji said.

Private sector employees will have Friday as weekly holiday, but grant of Saturday as holiday is optional and not compulsory, Dr. Khazraji said adding, “there is no provision in the law or a decision stating that the weekly holiday for private sector is two days”.

Should circumstances require that the employee has to work on his scheduled holiday, he should be compensated with another leave and paid an extra wage equal to 50 per cent of his full wage. If he is not compensated with leave, his employer will have to pay him 50 per cent more of his basic wage for the days he worked, the official said.

In case the employee agrees to work more hours than the normal working duration, the extra period he worked will be regarded as overtime for which he will get a wage equal to the normal working hours plus an increase of not less than 25 per cent of that wage, he explained.

Followers of all faiths will be entitled to holidays on ‘Friday’ based on the rule of equality the government is pursuing in all aspects, he observed.

Private companies and establishments, which violate these instructions will be vulnerable to the enforcement of article 181 of the punishments chapter in the labour law which stipulates that without prejudice to any severe punishment provided for under another law, an imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine not less than Dh 3000 and not more than Dh10,000 or either of the two penalties, shall be imposed on offenders thereof.

The employee who fails to report for work immediately and on time will be deprived of his wage for the period he was absent with effect from the next day his leave expires, he said.

The employer is not entitled to dismiss the employee or serve him with a warning during his leave as stipulated thereof, he said.

Regarding the possibility of enforcing a five-day week for the private sector (two day weekly holidays) instead of six-day week with only one Off-day, Al Khazraji said the issue merits an in-depth study and an official decision will take time.

The present situation will continue and in the event of change, there will be consultation with the bodies concerned, namely businessmen, he added.


Shared accommodation is blamed for diseases
ABU DHABI— 14 Aug:
Shared accommodation is the breeding ground of parasitic diseases in the country which have registered a significant increase over the past few years.

“The increasing incidence of parasitic diseases in the UAE has been largely attributed to the practice of shared apartments that has enhanced cross infection,” official sources at the Preventive Medicine Department at the Ministry of Health, told Khaleej Times.

They underlined that more than 4000 cases of different types of parasitic infections were reported in the country over the past few years among different nationals and age groups that ranged between 0-45 plus.

In the absence of a law to keep rents under control, they have gone up with landlords increasing the cost of hiring apartments which has forced

the people go in for shared accommodation which in turn has led to spread of parasitic infections in the country as many would opt to go for shared space to escape unaffordable expensive rents required for independent apartments.

Numerous inconveniencies at labour camps that lack basic conditions of occupational safety and health, account for most labour disputes lodged with the Labour Ministry (MoL).

This is another reason that is feared for aggravating incidence of parasitic infections taking into consideration there are more than 70,000 companies operating in the capital.

As per the federal law no 27 of 1981, on communicable disease prevention and control, expatriates suffering from parasitic diseases would not be deported and would receive appropriate treatment.  The emerging trend of renting double-deck beds on daily swapping basis which is an unhealthy fashion usually favoured by low-income group and bachelors,  is also widely accepted as a stimulus factor that has pushed up incidents of parasitic diseases in the country.  Medical experts have warned that shared accommodation could serve as a breeding environment for parasitic diseases as well as fungal infections. Scabies is the result of a parasite that survives in mattresses for two days.

Using the same bathroom also adds up to the chances of transmiting infection from one person to the other,” said Dr Abeer Al Sayed, Dermatologist at Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Siva Prasad, an Abu Dhabi-based Dermatologist, said: “Shared rooms help growth of head lice which is very common especially among women. Scabies is another contagious disease. However, scabies is not common in the UAE as it is imported by expatriates coming from Asia. Sharing one room enhances chances of transmitting the disease”.  Asked about measures adopted by the MoL to secure healthy accommodation, Qassim Jameel, Head of Inspection Department at the ministry, said employers should abide by certain conditions regarding labourers camps. “Sponsors should make sure labourers camp has dgood ventilation and a functional AC.   He added that fire extinguishers, wardrobes, refrigerators and washing machines should be available at the labourers camp.


‘Firm is not responsible for sending wrong body home’

DUBAI — 14 Aug: The Dubai-based Al Hamid Siddique Shipping Company yesterday claimed no responsibility for the shocking incident in which an unidentified African woman’s body was sent by mistake to the distraught family of an Indian sailor.

The sailor  died 21 days ago on board the vessel  MV Bahadur 101 while it was sailing off the coast of Dubai.

However, the Indian missions in Teheran condemned the statement of the shipping company saying that the shipping company was not responsible for the entire fiasco of repatriating a wrong body to the relatives of the deceased. The sailor, Subodh Tewari, from Deoria district in Uttar Pradesh was employed by Al Hamid Siddique Shipping Company in Dubai.

Tewari’s family was stunned on August 8 when they were handed over a casket with Subodh’s name on it, but which contained a woman’s body.

The body was sent to New Delhi by air by the shipping company’s agent in Teheran and was later taken to his village in Deoria district.

An official from the shipping company in Dubai said, “We had sold the vessel-MV Bahadur 101 four months ago to an Iranian national Mansour Hardani. We have nothing to do with the vessel any more so we are not responsible for what has happened.”

An Indian Consulate official here said the Indian mission in Dubai had no role to play in the repatriation of the wrong body. The body was not repatriated from Dubai, he said, expressing disbelief over the tragic error committed by the company. “This is a very strange incident.”

“Apart from the country’s mission involved in the repatriation of the body, other authorities including the police and hospital are involved in giving the necessary clearances before the body is embalmed and repatriated by a company or individual.”

Meanwhile, an official from Indian Embassy in Teheran told Khaleej Times: “ We contacted the shipping company in Dubai and they were  responsible for the repatriation of the body. We had issued all the necessary documents for the repatriation of Tewari’s body, but we don’t know what happened later.”

“Subodh was officially employed by Al Hamid Siddique Shipping company. It is not consequential for us whether they had sold the vessel or not. In the official records at the Indian mission, Al Hamid Shipping is the employer and therefore they are responsible for the repatriation of the wrong body to the bereaved relatives in India,” the official clarified.

The official further noted that an Indian Airlines aircraft which carried the body to India was also responsible to some extent for the incident.

“They should have checked  whose body they were carrying. The repatriated body was that of an African woman, possibly from Cameroon. However, her body was finally returned to Teheran yesterday. Now we are  trying our best to repatriate Tewari’s body to India as early as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, the trauma for Tewari’s family is far from over. His family is still waiting for his body to be returned.

Speaking to Khaleej Times over telephone, Narasingh Tiwari, Subodh’s father, said, “We still don’t know what is happening. The body of the woman we received was given back to the authorities who informed us that they have sent it back to Iran already. But nobody has yet given us a correct answer as to when  we hope to get Subodh’s body back.”


Eye test for driving licence privatised

ABU DHABI — 14 Aug: The General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police has privatised eye testing required for driving licence applicants in Abu Dhabi. In cooperation with three private hospitals, six centres for eye tests were opened yesterday, Khaleej Times learnt.

Four centers have been inaugurated in Abu Dhabi, the capital, of which two are in the premises of the licences section, one at Al Rahba Police Station, and one at the Emirates Driving School in Al Musaffah.

A fifth centre is situated at Tarif in the western region, while the last centre is located in Al Ain. All eye tests are done at a low charge, Major Abdullah Al Qadi, Head of Driving Licences Section, was quoted as saying.

The said hospitals are Al Khaleej Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi, Al Salama Hospital in Al Ain, and Al Mazrouey Hospital in Tarif. The three contracted hospitals are fully equipped with latest equipment requisite for eye tests to detect and assess changes and weaknesses in vision as per the international medical protocols.


Woman falls to death from 18th floor 

Sharjah/Dubai: 14 Aug: A woman fell to her death from a window in the 18th floor of her flat in Al Buheirah.

Samar Ahmad, a 25-year-old Egyptian, was killed instantly.

Police sources said that the woman used to work for a well-known cosmetics chain.

The case has been transferred to the public prosecutor for investigations, but preliminary findings revealed she may have committed suicide.

In another incident, a man committed suicide at a worker's accommodation in Dubai last week, police said.

They said that the Indian worker committed suicide by hanging himself in his accommodation in Sonapur. He tied a rope to his bunk bed. He was suffering from financial problems.




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