An Asian worker died and three others were injured when a crane collapsed in a construction area in Abu Dhabi’s AL Raha beach.
The incident showed, once again, that the owners of the constructions and the contracting companies in the UAE have been ignoring providing safety measures at work sites, and ensuring that the cranes are regularly maintained.
The tragic incident highlighted the workers’ rights and their harsh working conditions in the country due to poor safety procedures, long working hours, low salaries, delayed payments for periods reaching more than a year, and the overcrowding of dozens of workers in poor housing. Human rights organizations described the treatment of these workers as “modern-day slavery.”
The International Campaign to Boycott UAE (ICBU) called on the UAE authorities to immediately disclose the circumstances of the deaths of the two Asian workers at a new development compound in the west of Dubai.
The Paris-based international campaign said in a press release it had received reports from workers of an incident in which two Sri Lankan workers died at the compound after heavy materials fell on them.
The campaign was also informed that the UAE authorities had warned the workers who witnessed the incident not to tell any other parties about the incident, calming that an investigation was ongoing.
The international campaign said that a large number of workers died in similar incidents in the recent years in the UAE, which is a frequent phenomenon, due to the government regulations failure and the lack of accountability.
The international boycott campaign called on the International Labour Organization (ILO) to take immediate measures against human rights abuses in the UAE regarding the workers who still lack basic health and safety requirements.
The campaign also called on the UN to appoint a special rapporteur to oversee the human rights situation of foreign workers in the UAE because of the country’s historic abuses.
The campaign stressed that it will continue to defend the foreign workers’ rights in the UAE despite the widespread violations such as low wages and subjectivity to slavery practices such as sponsorship.
The International Federation of Rights and Development (IFRD) expressed its shock after a video was released on the social media, by an Emirati citizen, where he holds Indian workers, in an acting way, and they are required to be released to support the UAE team in their match against India at the Asian Nations Cup in Abu Dhabi.
The Rome-based international organization said in a press release that although the video may be comic, it is grossly abusive and degrading to the most basic human rights.
IFRD also said that the video represents a systematic practice of degrading the humanities of expatriate workers in the UAE and a frequent form of racism and deliberate humiliation.
Foreign workers, who are attracted by jobs, projects and economic activities, represent a large part of the labor force in the UAE reaching to 86% of the country’s population.
The number of foreign nationals, multicultural, is more than 200 nationalities in the UAE. Despite officials’ assertion of their commitment to respect labor rights, international organizations categorize the UAE negatively in indicators of labor rights and modern-day slavery.
IFRD said that the UAE continues to adopt the sponsorship system dealing with expatriate workers, which constitutes a form of slavery.
The UAE authorities have rejected additional human rights proposals submitted by the United Nations as part of the UAE’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), as well as a number of proposals concerning the treatment of foreign workers in particular, such as recommendations to allow foreign workers to set up trade unions.
The international organization also called for an immediate end to the violations of labor rights in the UAE, in light of the serious exploitation they suffer. The UAE adopted for the first time a domestic labor law in September that provides for migrant workers their rights, but some of these laws are weaker than those guaranteeing protection for other workers under the country’s labor law.