18 January 2006

It's a Dangerous Job

Newly released statistics show that workers deaths on construction sites in Dubai have increased again in the last year.

The number of deaths has almost doubled since 2003 from 20 to 39. Non-fatal accidents jumped 66% in the last year from 105 to 175. Most of the deaths are due to falls, collapsing structures, fires and crane accidents.

Interestingly these statistics exclude construction in free zones (a significant proportion of the building work in Dubai), as companies who are based there are not compelled to report accidents on their sites.


Cleaning Windows without a Harness

But apparently safety is increasing, says the Municipality, as the land under construction has almost doubled in the last year, and "most sites have safety signs put up now, for instance." (Fawzi Al Shehi, head of Engineering Supervision Section, Building Department of Dubai Municipality).

In other news there have been more protests of workers who insist that a two day weekend is their right (headlined 'Novel Demand' in Gulf News|). And the story of the 1500 workers who went to file a complaint at the labour ministry in Dubai, partly because the company was locking them out of their accommodation and withholding their labour cards, healthcare and salaries, only to be told that they could not submit a complaint without the labour cards, a copy to be provided by the labour ministry (one for each worker) costing 10 Dirhams each, bringing the cost of the complaint to 10,000 Dirhams.

I discovered a website that seems a good idea, proposing a petition to demand the UAE sign the ILO (International Labour Organisation) convention to allow unionisation.

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