Indian carriers flying to the UAE have received bulk bookings from construction firms in the country to fly out 20,000 of their workers.
Venu Rajamony, Indian Consul-General in Dubai, said based on the bulk booking figures available at various Indian airlines, several construction companies in Dubai are sending their Indian workforce back home on long leave or repositioning them to other Gulf countries where they have projects.
Rajamony said the bulk bookings being mainly from construction companies indicate that though the financial crisis has not created mass termination of workers, companies are taking precautions anyway – either by relocating surplus staff to Doha, Qatar, or other cities in the region, or sending them on long leave.
Rajamony said: "Air-India and other Indian carriers are getting ready to accommodate these 20,000 bulk bookings in March."
However, he added: "According to figures released by Dubai Emigration authorities to the Indian Consulate, there were between 25,000 and 30,000 visa cancellations in the past two months, which is a normal figure. There were also 13,000 new visas issued by the emigration authorities."
There are more than a million Indian workers in the UAE and those who are going back constitute only a small portion of the total Indian workforce here, he said.
The Consulate officials' interactions with big contracting and construction companies have revealed that these companies have enough contracts and work in hand, Rajamony said.
"Some big companies from Dubai have projects in Abu Dhabi and Qatar and are repositioning their workers to these places. They are not cancelling the workers' visas because it will be difficult to get new visas later," he said.
The Consulate also said there is no surge in labour complaints and there is clear instructions from the UAE Ministry of Labour to companies to strictly follow the labour laws and settle all claims before sending workers home. "We have not seen an increase in the number of complaints. There is an increase in the application for out passes, from 200 applicants a month in 2008 to 400 applications in January 2009.