NEWS FRIM THE UAE
Domestic workers to be covered by labour law soon
DUBAI — March 27: The Minister of Labour, Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, yesterday assured the Indian authorities that all domestic workers in the UAE will soon be covered under the Labour Law.
The domestic workers in the UAE are currently covered under the Immigration Law.
“The move is part of the UAE’s labour reform initiatives,” said Vayalar Ravi, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, after his meeting with Al Kaabi yesterday. The two discussed various labour related issues.
The Indian minister was speaking to Khaleej Times from New Delhi.
Al Kaabi, who accompanied His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on his visit to India, assured Ravi that all Indian workers coming to the UAE would be covered under medical insurance, and that the companies hiring these workers would bear the expenses for the same.
Ravi told Al Kaabi that India had already started imparting training to the workers before they fly to the UAE. Al Kaabi, in turn, said 700 inspectors would be appointed by his ministry to ensure that the workers’ rights are protected in the UAE.
Added Ravi: “Al Kaabi has also assured that salaries will be paid to the workers through banks and the Labour Ministry will monitor these transactions. This will ensure that the workers are paid their salaries on time.”
Revealing the details further, Ravi said, “The United Arab Emirates has also assured to impose penalties on all employers who hold the passports of foreign workers. In addition, all workers will be given smart cards which will carry all their details.”
Ravi added: “Both India and the UAE have decided to appoint a joint committee to monitor the problems of workers. The committee will include three members from each side. The first meeting of the committee will be held in Dubai next month,” disclosed Ravi.
“The meeting with the United Arab Emirates Labour Minister was fruitful. We have decided to strengthen our relations further. We want to work together for the betterment of workers,” the Indian minister stressed.
New clinics for labourers
ABU DHABI — March 27: New clinics will be set up across the country to provide health services to labourers and deal with emergencies at work sites, a senior health official has revealed.
“The Ministry of Health (MoH) is coordinating with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) to establish specialised clinics to cater for health requirements of workers,” said Dr Ali Shukur, Under-Secretary of the MoH.
Responding to a Khaleej Times query on the ministry’s role to ensure good health care services for labourers, the official replied: “Negotiations are under way with high ranking officials at the MoL to introduce ‘occupational medicine’ in the country as an independent speciality to better cater for health needs of labourers.”
Lack of medical attention, work-related accidents and occupational hazards of late have been one of the major problems suffered by a large segment of blue-collar labourers, he said.
The official said that the proposed medical facility would comply with certain criteria and standards and the two ministries are working together to ensure quality medical care to workers in various specialities.
“We will jointly devise certain benchmarks for the proposed clinics, in accordance with the international criteria to ensure quality services for labourers,” said Dr Shukur.
On whether these clinics will help prevent work-related accidents, the under-secretary said: “Workers will have access to preventive as well as educational courses on work-related hazards and occupational safety measures at the clinics.”
Regarding companies that might opt for their own clinics, Dr Shukur stressed: “Companies that like to have their own clinics have to abide by the rules that will be applicable to occupational health care facilities.”
Dairy, juice firms get MoE warning
DUBAI — March 27: The Ministry of Economy (MoE) has warned of legal action against a number of dairy and juice product companies which recently announced their decision to raise the price of their products from April.
A number of companies dealing in dairy products had recently informed cooperative societies and supermarkets about their decision to raise the price of milk by 20 to 30 per cent from April 1.
Meanwhile, several juice companies had also proposed a hike in price of juices from next month, Khaleej Times learnt.
However, the Union Cooperatives group, not in favour of the hike, had urged the UAE Consumer Cooperative Union and the Ministry of Economy to look into the issue, said Ibrahim Al Bahar, Director Operations at Union Cooperatives .
Al Bahar disclosed, “All the cooperative societies and supermarkets had received circulars from seven dairy companies informing them about their move to raise the price of dairy products by 20 to 30 per cent from next month. The circular released urged the Union Cooperatives and other supermarkets to update their price list according to the new prices.”
Some companies like Al Marmum, Safi, Nada and Mitco had verbally informed the Union cooperative about the proposed price hike, Al Bahar added.
“The decision was not welcome,” he said, referring to the earlier decision of the Cabinet which prohibited any coalition of dairy companies from monopolising the market that would affect consumers.
He disclosed that the Union Cooperatives had referred the price hike issue to the UAE Consumer Cooperative Union requesting for an urgent meeting to discuss the issue and take immediate action against the proposed increase in the price of milk, keeping consumer interest in mind.”
Al Bahar has hailed the MoE’s decision issued yesterday, warning violating dairy and juice firms over prices.
The warning notice released by MoE against increase of prices and adhering to old prices comes under article no.3 of the Federal Consumer Protection Law no.24/2006.
The notice said, monopoly was ensured through lobbying and implicit agreements among dairy and juice products companies, the MoE Consumer Protection Department detected through letters sent to points of sales and other consumer complaints. This, it noted, is harmful to consumers and and the national economy.
The MoE notice was issued against Al Marai Company, Al Ain Dairy Company, Al Rawabi dairy, Mohammed Abdullah Al Othman Trading Corporation and Gulf Dairy and Safa Company.
Earlier, an official of Gulf Dairy Company justifying the proposed hike in price told Khaleej Times that the dairy companies, specially the small-scale ones, are facing huge losses following an increase in the cost of production. Besides, local companies face stiff competition from products of the neighbouring countries.