Ministry of Labour responds to HRW report

The UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) has reviewed Human Rights Watch's Global Report 2011, and welcomes the fact that international human and labour rights advocacy groups choose to hold the UAE to high standards when reporting on the conditions of foreign workers in our country, which aspires to be a model in region.

MOL believes that actions and measures taken by the UAE government and the Ministry of Labour over the past years to protect foreign workers raise the expectations of the international community that workers in the UAE will be extended full protection under UAE laws, and accepts the increasing level of international scrutiny. These measures and actions are similarly responsible for making the UAE the destination of choice of aspiring workers from across the globe.

MOL notes HRW's recognition of a number of recent UAE labour decrees and policies that increased the protection extended to foreign workers.

The ministry continues to believe that tabloid style advocacy of human and labour rights does a disservice to the very cause of human rights of foreign workers and undermines the credibility of the advocating organisation. MOL takes issue with the sensational reporting by HRW on the plight of workers who were laid-off from their UAE jobs in 2010, at a time when job loss that was due to the global economic downturn was for the overwhelming part dealt with in an orderly fashion and workers continue to enjoy wage protection under an internationally acclaimed electronic Wage Protection System.

The ministry has invited HRW to examine a recent MOL decree on the right of workers to change employers. The reference to the Kafala system in HRW's press release suggests an insufficient understanding of this issue on the part of HRW.

The ministry said it is committed to continuously improve the protection of the rights of workers in the UAE and welcomes constructive comments, suggestions and criticism by international stakeholders.

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