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3 Feb 2022

Namrata Raju, Thompson Reuters Foundation

UAE: As new labour law comes into effect gaps persist in upholding EXPO workers' rights


"OPINION: Expo’s bright lights cannot hide Dubai’s dark side of discrimination and forced labour", 2 Feb 2022

Equidem research found that dozens of women and men from Africa and South Asia reported that they had experienced racial discrimination or bullying, and violations of their labour rights which are also indicative of forced labour.

Other workers spoke of being charged illegal recruitment fees for their job, not receiving wages and benefits in time and in full, having their passports taken...and facing difficulties or being unwilling to access formal complaint mechanisms.

United Arab Emirates law prohibits discrimination, forced labour and human trafficking. Yet the authorities rarely prosecute such cases, if ever.

...Although the Expo organisers developed higher labour standards than national laws and mechanisms to lodge complaints, workers are often too fearful of speaking out because of the real risk of punishment by employers or state authorities.

The Emirates’s new labour laws, taking effect today, do not address the non-compliance of existing protections by business...Trade unionism will continue to be illegal in the Emirates leaving workers without the protection of representation necessary to voice their concerns without fear of retribution or losing their job.