Pakistani Migrants in Dubai: Behind Migrant Labourer’s Dream

It is a city renowned for glitz, glamour and boasts the world’s tallest building. But there’s an ugly side that you won’t read about in its tourist brochures. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and a popular tourist destination — its army of migrant workers. The workers, who are largely from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh & Nepal, are paid well below the prices charged in the city’s expensive boutiques and glamorous hotels. The migrant workers are not only at greater risk of exploration, but are often housed in filthy conditions, with little down time. In short they are the hidden slaves of a rich city.Mid of August 2017 I traveled UAE with one of my journalist colleague for a week. This travel was planned as we wanted to do have some good stories on Pakistani Migrant workers in UAE. So during our stay in UAE we visited Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman & Abu Dhabi. We visited so many labour camps in these Emirates and have meetings with labours. In Dubai we went SONA PUR LABOUR CAMP which is a very famous place for labours and everybody in the city knows well about this place in regard of labours residential camps. During our meeting with labours I have heard that Migrant workers make up a large majority of Dubai’s private sector staff. While exact figures are not known, it is estimated that there are three million of these workers in the UAE alone. Domestic workers were particularly vulnerable to abuse as they don’t have the minimal protection afforded by UAE labour law.

Mid of August 2017 I traveled UAE with one of my journalist colleague for a week. This travel was planned as we wanted to do have some good stories on Pakistani Migrant workers in UAE. So during our stay in UAE we visited Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman & Abu Dhabi. We visited so many labour camps in these Emirates and have meetings with labours. In Dubai we went SONA PUR LABOUR CAMP which is a very famous place for labours and everybody in the city knows well about this place in regard of labours residential camps. During our meeting with labours I have heard that Migrant workers make up a large majority of Dubai’s private sector staff. While exact figures are not known, it is estimated that there are three million of these workers in the UAE alone. Domestic workers were particularly vulnerable to abuse as they don’t have the minimal protection afforded by UAE labour law.In a meeting interviewed workers and witnessed the shocking conditions the men were exposed to. A migrant worker from Shiekhpura Pakistan said that he has been approached by agents in their villages in Pakistan, telling the men they will be paid $580 a month. But in reality they are paid half that with the agents taking a $4000 cut in the process and found some of them were then in debt and too poor to return home, with many working 12 hour shifts six days a week.

In a meeting interviewed workers and witnessed the shocking conditions the men were exposed to. A migrant worker from Shiekhpura Pakistan said that he has been approached by agents in their villages in Pakistan, telling the men they will be paid $580 a month. But in reality they are paid half that with the agents taking a $4000 cut in the process and found some of them were then in debt and too poor to return home, with many working 12 hour shifts six days a week.The shocking conditions were further we have seen into the mall when hundreds of migrant workers staged a protest over pay. Public protests are banned in the UAE, but angry workers defied the law to demand fair pay for their work a big shopping Mall, Sharjah.

The shocking conditions were further we have seen into the mall when hundreds of migrant workers staged a protest over pay. Public protests are banned in the UAE, but angry workers defied the law to demand fair pay for their work a big shopping Mall, Sharjah.

One worker Abdul Shakoor told that he was paid a monthly salary of just $170, well below what was promised to him. Apart from salaries issue workers also told their stories with tears that companies are withholding the passports of migrant workers, trapping them in the UAE. Thousands of workers are living in substandard or squalid conditions elsewhere in the UAE in apparent breach of the TDIC’s pledge to house them all in its model Saadiyat accommodation village. Dozens of workers were deported this year for striking over pay and conditions. Workers decorating the university live in squalid conditions, with 10 men to a room, no free healthcare and some trapped because they have to pay back huge recruitment fees. A worker who claims he lost his leg while building luxury villas has been forced to live on the top floor of a migrant camp for a year. He only received a prosthetic leg last month and has been reliant on the Red Crescent for medical support. His claim for compensation and request for ground-floor accommodation have been rejected. Louvre workers have to work for nine months to a year just to pay back their recruitment fees. One worker who went on strike over poor wages was kept in his camp unpaid for three months and then sent back to Pakistan with 19 others. Minimum labour standards are not respected, there are systematic complaints about poor accommodation and sanitation, salaries and medical services are withheld, and both experts and the migrants themselves report excessive police force and situations of forced labour.

Workers decorating the university live in squalid conditions, with 10 men to a room, no free healthcare and some trapped because they have to pay back huge recruitment fees. A worker who claims he lost his leg while building luxury villas has been forced to live on the top floor of a migrant camp for a year. He only received a prosthetic leg last month and has been reliant on the Red Crescent for medical support. His claim for compensation and request for ground-floor accommodation have been rejected. Louvre workers have to work for nine months to a year just to pay back their recruitment fees. One worker who went on strike over poor wages was kept in his camp unpaid for three months and then sent back to Pakistan with 19 others. Minimum labour standards are not respected, there are systematic complaints about poor accommodation and sanitation, salaries and medical services are withheld, and both experts and the migrants themselves report excessive police force and situations of forced labour.

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