Author Topic: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?  (Read 3809 times)

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Xavier_Onassis

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2008, 01:19:01 PM »
Most of the contract workers in Dubai and Qatar have no idea what they are getting into. They may have some rights specified in the contract, but they have no way of pressuring the employer to live by them. Their passports are seized when they hit the tarmac, and they just have to put up or shut up. They can be beaten or even killed if they protest, and they are made aware of this very soon after their arrival. They can be deported and paid nothing at all, and they have no rights whatever.

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

_JS

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2008, 01:24:40 PM »
I don't necessarily think it's right, but - and this is a big one - it is the law in those countries, and no one forces anyone to go there.

Enticing people to go there is a trademark of exploitation.

Again, the Sheikh should meet international labor laws and allow Trade Unions.
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Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2008, 10:11:38 AM »
High pay doesn't give license to provide substandard housing (read "slums") and to flout international labor laws by completely exploiting the workers.

Laborers were arrested for trying to form a union? Surely you cannot support that Henny & H?

Finding out that much of the author's information was 4 years out of date made me seriously question if the article could be taken seriously in the first place.

That aside, I have not personally seen an example where contract laborers were made to live in "slum" conditions, but if that is the case then it should be addressed, I would imagine that international pressure is the place to start.

Is it an international labor law that workers must be allowed to form unions? (Seriously, I don't know the answer.) If so, then again, an issue that can should be addressed. If not, then I would say that this is where the contracts and agents of the laborers come in - as their protection.

Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2008, 10:12:37 AM »
Quote
They come by choice and there are joint agreements between their countries and the country they go to work in - in fact, a special visa system and a contract for the term of their employment. The contracts are usually 2 years and the employee and employer can choose to extend it at the end of the term, or the worker can go home. While we people scream "disenfranchisement," these people are often making their life fortunes in their brief contract tenure due to the value of the foreign currency at home. They are given a place to live and food, and all the money they make is theirs to take home with them - no other expenses. Last, they are represented by the agency that makes their contract with the employer - any complaints can be taken back to the agency to be dealt with (by either party involved).

I got to know quite a few of the contract employees in Saudi Arabia when I was there - Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis and so on, as well as those of us from more industrialized countries. Yes, even those of us from the US, Britain, France, Germany, and so on were there under contract. By and large, all of them were happy to be there, mainly because it provided an opportunity to make a very good salary. There were sacrifices that had to made due to Saudi law, and I'm sure most of us missed our families, friends, social life and whatnot back in (fill inthe blank), but everyone dealt with it in order to earn the salaries that made it all worthwhile. Now, most of the folks from the industrialized countries were there for technical jobs, and most of the folks from the other countries were there for non-skilled jobs, so naturally we didn't all get paid the same. Still, everyone I talked to was glad to be making what they were making for the simple fact that it beat the hell out of what they could have made for the same job back home, if they could get a job back home.

An interesting fact is that the crime most often reported by the Riyadh and Jeddah papers was forgery - people forging their papers to extend their work visas.

H, where did you live in KSA?

Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2008, 10:16:37 AM »
I disagree vehemently with your logic. Simply because a worker comes from a destitute nation with terrible circumstances does not make it right to offer him or her contracts with piss poor working and living conditions. What I consider a slum, is in all actuality a slum. And you say they have a choice, but no, they really don't. Anyone who knows of the slums in Manilla, throughout India, Lahore & Karachi, and the land-grabbing capitalist aftermath of the Tsunami in countries like Sri Lanka will easily realise that they most certainly do not have a choice.

I guess the way I see it is through the eyes of the workers. They are, for the most part, thrilled to have the opportunity. If in their shoes, would you want that opportunity taken from you because someone else thought they knew better? As H said, they are free to not come. But I do know that the last maid we had on contract here saved her salary and was able to go home to Sri Lanka and build a house for her family that they never dreamed they would live in. With plumbing and electricity, to boot - something they had never had before.

Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2008, 10:19:35 AM »
They may have some rights specified in the contract, but they have no way of pressuring the employer to live by them.

Absolutely untrue. This is the role of the agent - to protect their rights. They go back to the agent if there is a problem and the agent keeps them there until the issue is resolved.

_JS

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2008, 10:47:29 AM »
I disagree vehemently with your logic. Simply because a worker comes from a destitute nation with terrible circumstances does not make it right to offer him or her contracts with piss poor working and living conditions. What I consider a slum, is in all actuality a slum. And you say they have a choice, but no, they really don't. Anyone who knows of the slums in Manilla, throughout India, Lahore & Karachi, and the land-grabbing capitalist aftermath of the Tsunami in countries like Sri Lanka will easily realise that they most certainly do not have a choice.

I guess the way I see it is through the eyes of the workers. They are, for the most part, thrilled to have the opportunity. If in their shoes, would you want that opportunity taken from you because someone else thought they knew better? As H said, they are free to not come. But I do know that the last maid we had on contract here saved her salary and was able to go home to Sri Lanka and build a house for her family that they never dreamed they would live in. With plumbing and electricity, to boot - something they had never had before.

No offense Henny, but that sounds like the same excuse people used to defend Nike and other manufacturers who built plants in Southeast Asia where workers literally put their bare hands in very dangerous chemicals. Obviously you would never do that to your maid and I know you'd take care of her, but on a larger scale what you are saying basically amounts to the idea that because these workers come from squalor they don't deserve the standards of a western worker. They just need to be grateful for what they get.

I disagree completely.

Nor do I care whether or not forming Trade Unions is an international right (it is an EU right, I'm not sure if it is an ILO right). It should be. Again, you're denying the right of workers to conduct a fundamental action of assembly and using collective bargaining.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

hnumpah

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2008, 11:50:13 AM »
Quote
H, where did you live in KSA?

KKMC, King Khalid Military City. It is a huge, fairly new military base about 60 miles south of Hafr Al-Batin, close to the Iraqi border. We spent a lot of time in Riyadh and Dhahran - I even knew some troops that lived in Khobar Towers, but that was a coupla years before they were blown up, so I doubt they were still there. I was there as a civilian contractor on a UH60 helicopter simulator.

I had previously spent time in the Middle East when I was in the Army, in the late 70's - I traveled to most of the countries in the area at one time or another.
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Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2008, 12:48:42 PM »
UAE considers trade unions
by Joel Bowman on Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The UAE will meet with other Gulf nations early next year to discuss issues surrounding the formation of trade unions following a number of high profile strikes at construction sites in Dubai that have cast worldwide attention on the plight of labourers working in the emirate.

A delegation from the Ministry of Labour has been invited to attend a workshop in January where GCC member states will examine the challenges and implications of setting up workers' unions in the Gulf, UAE daily Khaleej Times reported on Tuesday.

The workshop comes after a number of meetings between GCC labour ministers regarding labour laws and workers' rights, discussions that have included the controversial proposal to cap how long unskilled labourers can work in any one Gulf country.

According to Khaleej Times, discussions will include looking at the role unions can play in educating workers about their rights and how to legally vent their grievances.

Any move by the UAE to allow trade unions would be seen as a significant step in modernising its labour laws.

Strikes and trade unions are currently illegal in the Emirates, as well as in Saudi Arabia and Oman. Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait do allow the formation of trade unions to varying degrees.

If the UAE does opt to allow unions it will being hoping the move will prevent any repeat of the strikes that have focused international attention on the state of the Emirates' labour laws.

The highest profile incident involved a standoff between 40,000 labourers working for the UAE's largest construction company Arabtec, 3,000 of which were employed on the Burj Dubai.

Skilled and unskilled labourers laid down their tools last month, refusing to return to work unless their demands of a $55 pay raise was met. Unable to form a union, the group of largely Indian expatriate workers was represented by the Indian consulate.

Workers cited the rising cost in living due, in part, to the weakening purchasing power of the dirham, and poor working conditions as the reason for their strike.

Contractors agreed to a 20% wage hike, but only after a deadlock lasting more than a week raised the cost of building the final ten floors of the Burj by 1%.

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/504984-uae-to-discuss-labor-unions

_JS

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2008, 01:34:27 PM »
Clearly 40,000 workers would not unite if there were not problems.

I am glad to hear that the UAE is considering changes to its views on Trade Unions. Now if Saudi Arabia and Oman will join them.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
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   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

_JS

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2008, 01:50:27 PM »
You have to go back to the causes of their nation's poverty as well. These poverty stricken nations go to the IMF and World Bank for help and are given "programs" to follow. Those programs are always to massively cut government assistance, to remove trade barriers, and to privatise public holdings (in companies and in land). Most often these IMF ideals are met through primarily non-democratic means, in other words they are simply instituted and public holdings are simply divested.

So you have peasant lifestyles that are completely removed along with fishing villages and other centuries (even millennia-old) ways of life. So yes, there is a massive surplus of unskilled labor that is forced to move to the cities and creates these huge slums we see in third world cities. These slums have grown despite what classical economics told us. In other words, they continue to grow, outpacing population growth in the cities themselves and the decline in the rural areas despite the lack of jobs and the declining economy in many third world cities.

So, should these laborers be grateful for these opportunities to work in these other countries who lack any real labor safeguards? No. Exploitation is exploitation, no matter what one's background is. The same is true for Mexican peasant farmers laboring in the United States as migrant workers.

Sure, they may be grateful on an individual level because the situation in their home country is that terrible, but that doesn't make it any more justified to exploit them. Especially considering it is our own exportation and forced economic values that are being used to destroy their nations.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2008, 02:08:06 PM »
You have to go back to the causes of their nation's poverty as well. These poverty stricken nations go to the IMF and World Bank for help and are given "programs" to follow. Those programs are always to massively cut government assistance, to remove trade barriers, and to privatise public holdings (in companies and in land). Most often these IMF ideals are met through primarily non-democratic means, in other words they are simply instituted and public holdings are simply divested.

So you have peasant lifestyles that are completely removed along with fishing villages and other centuries (even millennia-old) ways of life. So yes, there is a massive surplus of unskilled labor that is forced to move to the cities and creates these huge slums we see in third world cities. These slums have grown despite what classical economics told us. In other words, they continue to grow, outpacing population growth in the cities themselves and the decline in the rural areas despite the lack of jobs and the declining economy in many third world cities.

So, should these laborers be grateful for these opportunities to work in these other countries who lack any real labor safeguards? No. Exploitation is exploitation, no matter what one's background is. The same is true for Mexican peasant farmers laboring in the United States as migrant workers.

Sure, they may be grateful on an individual level because the situation in their home country is that terrible, but that doesn't make it any more justified to exploit them. Especially considering it is our own exportation and forced economic values that are being used to destroy their nations.

I agree. Exploitation is exploitation.

So what's the solution? We'll just tell them to go home to their horrible poverty and twiddle our thumbs without any solutions for them? No chances to improve their lives?

_JS

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2008, 02:27:12 PM »
You have to go back to the causes of their nation's poverty as well. These poverty stricken nations go to the IMF and World Bank for help and are given "programs" to follow. Those programs are always to massively cut government assistance, to remove trade barriers, and to privatise public holdings (in companies and in land). Most often these IMF ideals are met through primarily non-democratic means, in other words they are simply instituted and public holdings are simply divested.

So you have peasant lifestyles that are completely removed along with fishing villages and other centuries (even millennia-old) ways of life. So yes, there is a massive surplus of unskilled labor that is forced to move to the cities and creates these huge slums we see in third world cities. These slums have grown despite what classical economics told us. In other words, they continue to grow, outpacing population growth in the cities themselves and the decline in the rural areas despite the lack of jobs and the declining economy in many third world cities.

So, should these laborers be grateful for these opportunities to work in these other countries who lack any real labor safeguards? No. Exploitation is exploitation, no matter what one's background is. The same is true for Mexican peasant farmers laboring in the United States as migrant workers.

Sure, they may be grateful on an individual level because the situation in their home country is that terrible, but that doesn't make it any more justified to exploit them. Especially considering it is our own exportation and forced economic values that are being used to destroy their nations.

I agree. Exploitation is exploitation.

So what's the solution? We'll just tell them to go home to their horrible poverty and twiddle our thumbs without any solutions for them? No chances to improve their lives?

The solution is exactly what those Indian workers did - solidarity and action. If the UAE permits unions and strikes then they should be commended. That is the short-term solution.

The long-term solution is class-consciousness and an end to IMF and World Bank imposed programs that force this Friedman-esque mythology onto other nations. It does not lead to freedom (look at China and Russia). It leads to deprivation of the majority and extravagant wealth of the tiny minority. It requires real solidarity and that will take time and understanding. Right now, especially with American Imperialism and neoliberalism offering of crass consumerism on the altar for worship, that is a very difficult obstacle to overcome.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Plane

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2008, 04:48:57 PM »
Al-Qaeda and the war on terrorism deserve some of the credit for this boom. Since 9/11, many Middle Eastern investors, fearing possible lawsuits or sanctions, have pulled up stakes in the West. According Salman bin Dasmal of Dubai Holdings, the Saudis alone have repatriated one-third of their trillion-dollar overseas portfolio. The sheikhs are bringing it back home, and last year, the Saudis were believed to have ploughed at least $7 billion into Dubai's sand castles.
[][][][]][][][][][][][][][][][][]][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

Really?

And we haven't noticed ,a massive dearth of funds?

_JS

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2008, 04:52:43 PM »
Al-Qaeda and the war on terrorism deserve some of the credit for this boom. Since 9/11, many Middle Eastern investors, fearing possible lawsuits or sanctions, have pulled up stakes in the West. According Salman bin Dasmal of Dubai Holdings, the Saudis alone have repatriated one-third of their trillion-dollar overseas portfolio. The sheikhs are bringing it back home, and last year, the Saudis were believed to have ploughed at least $7 billion into Dubai's sand castles.
[][][][]][][][][][][][][][][][][]][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

Really?

And we haven't noticed ,a massive dearth of funds?


Checked the NASDAQ or DOW lately?
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.