Free zones to join wage protection

The UAE is planning to include workers at its free zones into a landmark system intended to protect the rights of expatriate employees, a newspaper said on Thursday.

The central bank, which introduced the wage protection system (WPS) two years ago, will begin enforcing plans to include free zone workers in the WPS in June, the semi official daily Al Ittihad said.

“The central bank will start implementing this plan on some companies from next month on a trial basis to ensure it will work,” the paper said, quoting an unidentified central bank source.

It quoted the source as saying the plan would then be extended to include all free zone workers in the next few months.

The central bank introduced the WPS in September 2009, starting with only 250 private sector firms, which have not reached 130,000.

In comments last week, a labour ministry official said nearly 3.6 million expatriate workers in the private sector are now included in the system, part of a strategy to ensure discipline in the labour market that is dominated by foreign workers.

Humaid Al Suwaidi, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for labour affairs, said the UAE would support all private sector workers who

do not get their salaries on time so they can regain all their rights provided they report their case on time.

“It is unacceptable that workers whose salaries are delayed stay without a job in the UAE under the excuse of not receiving their wages or entering futile negotiations with their employers who could be financially in trouble,” he said.

“These workers must immediately report to the ministry which will spare no effort in taking the necessary measures to guarantee their rights and ensure all their financial dues are settled.”

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