Labourers protest over lack of wages at Jebel Ali

DUBAI // Scores of workers yesterday sat on a dusty roundabout on the fringes of the city in a peaceful protest over non-payment of wages.

The men, who sat silently in a neat huddle by the side of Jebel Ali-Lehbab Road, near Dubai Investments Park, were surrounded by riot police during their demonstration.

The protest by the workers from a contracting company started in the early hours of yesterday, and was still continuing as darkness fell.

Brigadier Khalil al Mansouri, head of the Criminal Investigations Department at Dubai Police, said the protest was uneventful and there were no reports of violence.

“The workers were agitated at first but they soon calmed down and agreed to resolve it peacefully,” he said. “They were protesting about unpaid salaries.”

He did not disclose how long the workers had gone unpaid or the company for which they worked.

Dubai Police confirmed about 100 workers from a contracting company took part in the protest. A riot police vehicle was at the scene, and about a dozen riot police officers were sent to the protest site.

Police prevented a reporterfrom speaking to any of the protesters for “safety reasons”. The Ministry of Labour was not available for comment.

Under ministry regulations, companies that default on payment of salaries for more than three months are referred to public prosecution, and have their transactions at the Ministry of Labour blocked. Several ministry officials had earlier said that non-payment of salaries would not be tolerated.

In May 2009, the ministry, in co-operation with the Central Bank, introduced the wage protection system, under which workers’ salaries were automatically paid into workers’ bank accounts.

The procedure allows the ministry to check if a company is defaulting on salaries or making unlawful deductions from salaries.

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