Burj Dubai riots

25 April 2008

Despite riots and strikes the core of Emaar Properties' AED 3.67 billion (US$ 1 billion) Burj Dubai

Despite riots and strikes the core of Emaar Properties' AED 3.67 billion (US$ 1 billion) Burj Dubai continues to rise on schedule. Speaking to local media at the end of March, Emaar's chairman Mohamed

UAE: Construction workers rioted at the Burj Dubai site in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in March, in protest against low pay and alleged mistreatment.

The men, largely immigrant workers from Asia, work for subcontractor Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke on the Old Town part of the Burj development. Their demands include better pay, working and living conditions, including better medical care, and fairer treatment from site managers. Pay in Dubai currently ranges from US$ 7.60 per day for a skilled carpenter to US$ 4 per day for labourers.

The violence, which erupted on Tuesday 21 March when buses due to take the workers to labour camps at the end of their shift were delayed, caused an estimated AED 3.7 million (US$ 1 million) of damage. Local press reports said about 2500 workers chased and beat security officers, then broke into offices where they smashed computers and damaged files. About 20 cars and several pieces of construction equipment were also destroyed in the disturbances.

The men returned to the site on Wednesday but refused to return to work. Thousands of Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke labourers building a new terminal at Dubai's International Airport also stopped work in a sympathy strike. The government and police have threatened the workers with deportation if they do not resume work.

Last year several strikes hit the UAE's construction industry as workers sought better working and living conditions, while at least 24 Indian construction workers committed suicide in Dubai last year. The Indian Consulate in Dubai blames the deaths on a lack of social support and feelings of isolation among expatriate workers.

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