Laborers stage protest as Dubai Airshow begins
Nov. 08, 2015
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Hundreds of migrant laborers staged a rare protest near the airport hosting the opening day of the biennial Dubai Airshow on Sunday to demand higher wages.
Associated Press journalists saw the workers gathering and shouting along a road leading to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central, the Gulf city's second airport.
Police arrived on the scene soon after the demonstration began and eventually dispersed the crowd.
Workers said they were protesting inadequate pay, though none agreed to give their names for fear of retribution.
In a statement, the Dubai government media office said representatives from the Permanent Committee of Labor Affairs intervened to resolve the dispute. Its investigation found that the workers' demands fell outside of their contractual terms.
"The workers were satisfied with the mediation and ended their demonstration peacefully," the government statement said, adding that the men's employer was instructed "to clearly communicate contractual terms to the workers in order to prevent any future misunderstanding."
The employer for at least some of the workers, Bu Haleeba Contracting, declined to comment.
The United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is part, and other Gulf Arab nations have come under increasing scrutiny from human rights and labor activists over their treatment of low-paid migrant workers.
Labor unions are not allowed and strikes are illegal, though protests over working conditions sometimes occur.
Several hundred construction workers blocked traffic with a protest in central Dubai in March. Weeks later, laborers set several vehicles on fire in the north of the country following the death of one of their co-workers.
In late September, the Emirates announced plans to implement new labor legislation next year that aims to tighten oversight of employment agreements governing foreign workers, whose numbers far outweigh the local Emirati population.