NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Unified domestic workers contract ensures stability
DUBAI — April 02: The implementation of the unified domestic workers contract which came into effect yesterday has been welcomed by applicants in the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD).
Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director of DNRD, said, “The unified contract has laid down a clear legal framework for rights and obligations of a significant portion of workers in the UAE. It will certainly promote the country’s system of rules and legislations as it moves towards ensuring stability and good life for all residents.”
Brig Al Marri added that the contract has received positive feedback from people calling up the DNRD customer service. Hailing the new system, Mohammed Attiq Al Rahoumi, a UAE national, suggested that it should also include a clause regarding salary hikes for housemaids.
Toufiq Faraj Saleh, a UAE national, said the unified contract should be processed online in future.
Wissam Saeed, General Manager of Al Khaleej Housemaid Recruitment Office, said, “The unified housemaid contract is essential as it protects the interests of both the domestic worker and his or her sponsor. I am very optimistic about it.”
Oussama Abdel Aziz, General Manager of Global Recruitment Office, felt that the unified contract was a good package as a whole. “But it should also specify the working hours and the weekly days off.”
The unified contract must be signed when issuing or renewing domestic workers’ applications. Applications that have been approved and issued prior to April 1 are only exempted.
Unified contract not under MoL4
ABU DHABI — April 02: Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi has said the unified contract for domestic workers will not be under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour.
He told Khaleej Times that the new contract will be dealt with by the Naturalisation and Residency Departments.
A source at the Ministry of Interior said the new contract will protect the rights of all parties. “There is no intention to change the new contracts’ terms and conditions. And according to the decision no 64 for 2006, we started issuing the new contract from this month.”
An official at the Naturalisation and Residency Department in Abu Dhabi said the contract will follow international conventions.
Workers in row over salary hike
SHARJAH — April 02: About 350 workers of a Sharjah-based construction company, who had earlier stayed back in their labour camp and refused to attend work demanding a pay hike, have now reportedly agreed to rejoin duty.
The workers, who earn an average Dh500 a month, have pointed out their salaries are too low and they are unable to cope with the high cost of living and the constantly rising prices of even essential commodities.
They have also demanded a monthly salary ranging between Dh700 and Dh900 a month, in addition to an annual return airfare, exemption from medical and visa processing charges, better facilities in the labour camp, and payment of gratuity and annual leave salary.
A company official claimed yesterday the problem has been resolved amicably and all the workers were now back at work.
A statement issued by the company said the management had in any case, over the past two months, been reviewing the various terms and working conditions of the workers. This review, it added, was not in response to the worker’s demands and had actually been initiated earlier.
“Once the company review is complete, we will implement the improved terms shortly.”
However, an element of confusion persisted yesterday, as some workers denied that they had resumed duty. One worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, added “If the matter is not resolved, we shall approach the labour office on Monday.”
K.M., another worker, said, “We would like to have a written assurance from the company regarding any of its commitments relating to improved terms and facilities. On at least three occasions in the past, the company’s management failed to honour its commitment and assurances given under similar conditions.”
Metro work: launching gantries to increase from three to seven
DUBAI — April 02: The number of fully operational launching gantries used for the installation of viaduct deck segments for the Dubai Metro will increase from three to seven by the end of April.
The launching gantries provide a fast-track installation process which enables installation of a complete viaduct span in roughly two days.
Concrete segments are transported, on demand, from Jebel Ali Casting Yard to the launching gantry sites using heavy haulage trucks, say officials from the Dubai Metro, Roads and Transport Authority.
Launching gantries, LGT1, LG2, LG3, and LG5 are located near the proposed metro stations at Garhoud, Jafiliya, Burj Al Arab and Dubal, respectively and will join the three currently operational launching gantries to create seven work fronts for the installation of concrete deck segments used to form the rail viaduct spans.
The three launching gantries LG4, LG6 and LG7 that are currently operational can be seen busily installing viaduct spans along Shaikh Zayed Road, at Mall of the Emirates, Jebel Ali Industrial and Jumeirah Lake Towers, respectively.
There will be around 12,000 pre-cast concrete viaduct deck segments used for the Red Line, each weighing in excess of 50 tonnes.
The viaduct deck segments typically measure 10 metres wide by 4 metres long and are 3m high. The lengths of the spans vary from 24 to 72 metres where the minimum number of segments per span is 8 and the maximum is 18.
The launching gantry concrete segment installation process is a construction method used widely around the globe. It will be performed in accordance with internationally recognised standards in compliance with pre-planned and approved detailed work methodologies. Major works will be executed outside busy rush hours.
Good news for shoppers
ABU DHABI — April 02: The Ministry of Economy will join forces with local authorities to launch an inspection campaign to force commercial centres and shops to remove signboards which read “Goods once sold can’t be returned or exchanged.”
Mahmoud Al Balouchi, Chief Inspector at Consumer Protection Section of the Abu Dhabi Department for Planning and Economy, said the campaign was aimed at implementing the federal consumer protection law. According to article 5 of the law, sellers are obliged to return or change goods if the buyers discover any defect in them.
“Shop owners will be educated about the new law before any financial penalties are enforced,” he warned.
Al Quoz warehouse goes up in flames
DUBAI — April 02: A massive fire broke out in a warehouse, storing paints, chemicals and other building materials, in the Al Quoz industrial area yesterday causing a huge damage to property. However, no casualty was reported.
The General Department of Civil Defence was alerted at 4.38am that a fire had broken out in the warehouse located near a cement factory in Al Quoz.
Fire-fighters managed to douse the flames in about three hours. The warehouse was gutted while three adjoining warehouses which stocked electronics and other materials were also damaged.
A Civil Defence official said they faced a lot of obstacles while trying to put out the fire. He said the fire spread because flammable materials were not stored in the warehouse in a proper manner.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. A warehouse that stored bales of paper in the industrial area was gutted a few days ago.
A Civil Defence official said the number of such fire accidents usually increase during summer months because of high temperatures affecting various electrical equipment stored in warehouses. He added that such mishaps also occur because factories or warehouses flout safety rules.
‘Cancel labour cards to solve problem of illegal workers’
ABU DHABI — April 02: Cancelling labour cards is the best solution to the problem of illegal labourers in the country, according to an official.
Hatem Al Genebi, Director of the Dispute Department at the Ministry of Labour (MoL), told Khaleej Times recently that some companies were asked to pay fines as their workers’ labour cards had become invalid and hence, workers were staying on illegally in the country.
The ministry fines the firms Dh10,000 for every labour card that’s past its validity period in addition to suspending the firm’s registration code at the MoL’s system for six months.
“In case a worker wants to cancel his labour card and leave the country, the company should complete the formalities because the labourer has the right, according to the labour law, to cancel it and travel whenever he or she wants to,” said Al Genebi.
The firms, which refuse to cancel their workers’ labour cards without legal reasons, are violating the law.
Dubai - No trace of killer motorist
Dubai - April 02: A hit-and-run driver responsible for the death of a 20-year college student in Dubai is still at large, friends of the family said. Aditya Subramanium was struck by a speeding four-wheel-drive vehicle two weeks ago in Bur Dubai. His injuries were so severe he died before he reached hospital.
According to witnesses, the driver of the car did not stop to see if his victim was hurt and drove off immediately. Speaking to 7DAYS, friends of the family said they have still not heard from the police about the driver. Aditya’s family are in India finishing the final rites of the engineering student who was studying at BITS Pilani.
A family friend said: “They just want justice to be done.”
Marketing activities flood Sharjah after ban on sale of five-gallon bottled water
SHARJAH - April 02: The grace period of 15 days allowed by the Sharjah Municipality to groceries selling five-gallon bottled water notwithstanding, residents are now being flooded with leaflets advertising water and water dispensing equipments from the various drinking water suppliers. The Sharjah Municipality has come up with the proposal of banning sale of five-gallon bottles of drinking water through groceries and supermarkets after the Health Department allegedly came across increasing number of cases of outlets refilling bottles with tap water and selling them as company products.
The new system where customers had to buy water directly from companies was to come into effect from March 28, but the health department hasgiven 15 days time for groceries to get rid of the five-gallon bottles or pay up huge fines.
“Since the municipality has extended the period of implementing the ban by 15 days, I am not under much pressure as yet. Earlier, I used to supply around 200 bottles per day. Now it had increased to 250 bottles a day. This will increase much more by April 15, when the ban will be in full force,” says Babu K., a water delivery boy for a drinking water supplier in Sharjah.
Priya S., a Sharjah resident, says, “Every day, one or the other company makes it to the doorstep with a flier or a booklet advertising pure, healthy or quality drinking water. Since I already depend on Zulal water, which is delivered to our house once a week, this gets a bit irritating,” . However, the fliers are welcome to residents who have freshly joined the direct-from-company clientele. “I have been asking friends for numbers of water delivery guys, so that I can keep them with me to use in case of an emergency,” says Antony Raj. “Now that the leaflets have started coming in, I have all the numbers I might need,” he says.
The fliers are intended to guide, attract fresh customers. Some companies like Al Wasmi limit their advertisement to a convenient adhesive-coated label, with the contact number of the supply station, to allow it to be stuck at a convenient spot in the kitchen. Then there are bigger companies like Oasis who have come out with 8-page leaflet.
Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority’s Zulal drinking water distributor has also jumped into the bandwagon and come up with fliers that boast of bottled water “under strict governmental supervision identical to the World Health Organisation (WHO)”.
The Oasis company leaflet advertises quality water, their wide network, workforce (300 vehicles in their delivery fleet in UAE) and much more. The flier explains in detail why it should be trusted by those who are keen on drinking safe water, citing their Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certifications as testimony.
* Customers who have ordered the five-gallon bottles directly from the company complain about water not being delivered home on Fridays and other public holidays. * Emergencies, like when one runs out of water stock during a party, are also a problem they say. * Others say the delay in delivery by the company causes inconvenience. While the grocer sends water right away, the company delivery man takes a while if he is busy supplying water to customers in some other street or is stuck in the traffic.
* One can always pay a deposit and have two bottles in the house. Make an arrangement to get water delivered on fixed days week after week, so there is always one full five-gallon water bottle in the house.
* The Sharjah Municipality will be issuing licences to select grocers to stock five-gallon water bottles. So some shops in the vicinity would still have bottles to deal with emergencies.