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March 26, 2006

Dubai: Workers Hell

In all the debates over the Dubai Ports, progressive seemed to miss the key reason to bash the Dubai government-- it's cultivated a workers rights nightmare of plutocratic exploitation of immigrants.

It's an Apartheid of the Arab wealthy-- 500,000 local residents exploiting a 1,000,000 immigrants who do the work without voting rights or rights in the workplace:

[W]orkers have few rights. Visa sponsors and employers typically confiscate their passports and residency permits when they sign on, restricting their freedom of movement and their ability to report abuse...

When they get here, few can leave the country without the permission of their employers, who can block them from working elsewhere in the country if they resign or are fired.

Unionizing is forbidden, too, and most workers have no recourse other than the Labor Ministry.

Denial of wages is the most common abuse of workers, as contracting companies typically wait to pay their workers until they themselves get paid. In the worst cases, workers have been denied wages for more than 10 months, only to lose the entire salary when the contracting companies go bankrupt, leaving the men destitute and with few options.

And according to Human Rights Watch, the abuse gets worse for women and children::
Migrants, including large numbers of women employed as domestic servants, face intimidation and violence, including sexual assault, at the hands of employers, supervisors, sponsors and police and security forces. Children are especially vulnerable to labor and sexual exploitation and denial of basic rights.

"Thousands of children are trafficked to the United Arab Emirates for use as beggars and camel jockeys," Human Rights Watch's Rory Mungoven said.
If the world took labor rights seriously, the Dubai regime would be one of the world's pariah states.

Posted by Nathan at March 26, 2006 07:21 AM