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Building Towers, Cheating Workers Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates




This report documents alleged exploitation of construction workers by employers in the United Arab Emirates. In particular, the report focuses on migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
These report documents abuses which include:
• unpaid or extremely low wages
• several years of indebtedness to recruitment agencies for fees that UAE law says only employers should pay
• the withholding of employees’ passports
• hazardous working conditions that result in apparently high rates of death and injury
The report makes the following recommendations for the Government of the UAE:
• establish an independent commission to investigate and publicly report on the situation of migrant workers in the country
• prohibit companies from doing business with recruitment agencies, in the UAE and abroad, that charge workers fees for travel, visas, employment contracts, or anything else
• aggressively investigate and prosecute employers who violate other provisions of the UAE labour law
• provide quantitative and qualitative data on labour disputes, deaths and injuries at construction sites, and government actions to address these issues
• increase substantially the number of inspectors responsible for overseeing the private sector’s treatment of migrant construction workers
• take immediate action to inform and educate migrant construction workers arriving for employment in the UAE of their rights under UAE law
• abide by the obligation under the UAE labour law of 1980 to implement a minimum wage
• allow for the establishment of genuine and independent human rights and workers’ rights organisations
• ratify international labour conventions
The report also makes recommendations for the governments of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well as recommendations regarding free trade agreements with the United States, Australia and the European Union




Human Rights Watch

File Attachments



Exploitation, Construction Workers

Economic sectors

Construction trades helpers and labourers

Content types

Policy analysis, Documented cases of abuse, Support initiatives, and Statistics on work and life conditions

Target groups

Policymakers, Researchers, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and Regional relevance

Spheres of activity

Law and Social work