22 October, 2006

60 workers live in a 17 by 11-metre room

The room has 30 bunk beds and eight air-conditioners of which just three work. Sixty workers use three toilets.

With no bathroom facilities, the workers take a shower in the open using a hose that is fitted to a tap located outside a toilet. Food is prepared individually in a common kitchen.

The workers said they could not bear these conditions anymore. They are also afraid that management of the accommodation will be upset if workers are caught telling their stories.

"Our labour card will be confiscated if our camp boss catches anyone of us talking about the matter," said one worker. "We tried to live in that room, but we cannot take it any longer. We feel cramped," said one worker.
Excerpt from Gulf News article.

This problem is so reflective of certain attitudes in Dubai, the UAE and the Gulf at large. There is sort of the caste mentality that certain people can be allowed to/forced to live this way. You know, it's part of their karma, right?

There is also the "if you don't like it you can leave attitude." I'm so sick of this one. Why is Dubai building homes for hundreds of thousands, many presumably to come from abroad, if this is supposed to be an "if you don't like it you can leave it" sort of place. No matter that people come here by choice and for many it is a place to reside in temporarily; it is never a simple matter of like it or leave it.

Whether here for a week, a month, a year or a lifetime, everyone, especially workers, deserve humane treatment. Why should they be expected to leave if conditions turn out bad? Why not punish those (like these shameful companies) who are treating others inhumanely?


urbanite82 said...

It was a bit too quiet for me regarding this topic, even in the news...I thought maybe it had 'gone out of style' to blog/talk about such matters...the problems still exist people, and they aren't just going to disappear...glad to hear some one is still addressing the issue at hand...

BD said...

Just to add some personal commentary, I have a friend hired as a driver to work in a luxury Dubai Marina tower. The management company wants to house 3 such workers in a 3 meter by 2 meter room in the tower--basically a closet. Meanwhile residents in the tower have paid 9 million dirham or more for their spacious flats, with no telling how many thousands of dirham to pay yearly to the management company.

The mentality is that workers are to be indentured. They don't need a life and need no more space or facilities than domesticated animals. At the same time, such companies collect as much income if not more than comparable establishments in the West, which spend many multiples more on labor.

blogrosh said...

Hey BD - welcome back, you've been gone for 2 months or so, nice to read your posts again : )

I agree with urbanite82 - these issues won't just go away. I know of several more terrible horror stories. I do not think it's the country's fault as such (and I am not saying anyone is passing on the blame). The UAE is growing and there's a lot happening in such a short span.

There is an utmost need for a regulatory body, with full transparency, on dealing with protecting construction workers or low wage earners - else, the rich and powerful will continue to take undue advantage.

Seabee said...

I agree, these abuses need to get more publicity so it's good to see this posting.

It's also true that it's not 'the country's' fault, but the authorities certainly need to urgently address the issue with severe penalties for offenders.

Anonymous said...

Dubai the city that does not care?

marwan said...

As always, well said BD. Welcome back.

Some questions:
Why do I work to pay rent?
Why can't I change my job if I'm paid poorly without jumping through so many hoops my next job is in the circus?
Why can't I rent an apartment by myself if I want to?
Why can't an low paid worker have hopes and dreams beyond subsistence?
Why do people pretend things are worse in Subconia to justify constantly screwing over the lower class worker?
Why don't supposedly intelligent people think before asking why these unfortunate Subcons don't just leave if they don't like it so much?

For the answer, everyone, join in: "If you don't like it you can L-E-A-V-E!"

Anonymous said...

The misery is that most of those workers, can’t read write, or speck any other language, they are in total control of the supervisor! They have no choice, if they go back to their countries they cant find jobs, and here they have to accept this living style. It’s a shame how human can treat other humans the way he is describing to be “Slavery”. How greed become to be our daily style, how we cant accept each other equally and accept the fact that without those workers nothing of this could happen.

The hand that works in honesty and decency must kissed.

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