Construction Labourers Exploitation in the UAE

Executive Summary

The purpose of this statement is to format and evaluate the ethical issue facing construction companies and labour companies in the UAE with respect to accusations of blue back of the shirt worker exploitation. In order to do this, we first know very well what is intended by the term 'exploitation', which is when an individual is cured unfairly and taken advantage of, along using its implications in neuro-scientific construction. The need for companies to exploit labourers can be related to the rapid rate of growth in the UAE before the global financial meltdown, requiring them to maintain in an extremely competitive property market.

Arguments for and from the labourers will be layed out with respect to the case of Arabtec, a multinational development c company headquartered in the UAE, who encountered a problem when 40000 staff, who were part of the team focusing on the Burj Khalifa, thought we would riot and continue punch citing bad working conditions, substandard housing and low income. The perspective of the staff can be known through the application of a deontological ethics theory, Kantianism. On the other hand, Utilitarianism, a consequentialist theory, can help us consider it from the business's point of view. Finally, after putting both attributes of the debate in perspective and understanding the problem, we can propose alternatives such as unionization, proactive methods and stricter enforcement of labour legislation.


What is Exploitation?

Exploitation, in economics, politics overall economy and sociology identifies a relentless interpersonal interconnection where people aren't cared for and cared for unfairly, to other's advantage. That is with correspondence to a certain moral idea on exploitation - dealing with people as an ordinary means to an end or as things. In another manifestation, it means using people because of their resources, without considering their personal well-being. Those countries that are constantly being scrutinized of exploitation are the developing nations - mainly, in perspective of the worldwide economy

Well-known brands such as Coca Cola, Nike plus a lot more get excited about exploitation. To a certain degree, it is the competitive nature between organisations that drive those to use such types of procedures to capitalise on profits. For example, Nike uses inexpensive labour in Southeast Asia since this allows them to flee from the rigorous laws and enforcement in Europe and USA. Coca-Cola have obtained blame for terrifying staff worldwide and even utilizing para-militaries to damage union innovator. The clothing industry too, has been harshly condemned for inducting perspiration shop like conditions in factories in East Asia. (Shah. A. 2006).

Fuelled by Dubai's fast past growth:

Dubai seems like the perfect holiday break destination for most tourists who enjoy the sun and its own beaches. Stars are attracted to the wide selection of lavish apartments that Dubai hosts. But underneath all the physical elegance and glitz of Dubai, there's a struggling immigrant labor force living on the edge and a dark world of exploitation. It contains the majority of the ambitious building structures on the globe and is more popular for its remarkable infrastructure and 24/7 development. However, although these advancements appear sensational, the labour that switches into it and folks who take action, is highly unattractive

Dubai's economy, because of this of the market meltdown, has suffered a significant downfall, since it is intensely dependent on its real house, financial services and tourism. Those who toil in heat constructing homes for the prosperous, now face more pressure than before. (Goozee R. 2010).


Arabtec Structure is a multinational organization that handles construction. Its headquarters are situated in Dubai, UAE. In 2008, Arabtec was thrown into the midsection of disgraceful accusations about the sanitation of its labour camps. A reporter from Panorama used some workers back again to Arabtecs' labour camps and was repulsed with what he witnessed. Sewage possessed poured out everywhere you go across the camp also to avoid stepping on it, the labourers created a pathway of rocks to walk on to get to and fro their accommodation. One toilet was in short supply of water. Arabtec received a fine of 10, 000 AED for the sewage mess. Another report claimed that camps were congested, with about 7500 staff living together, allocated to about 1248 rooms with scarce fresh air. (BBC, 2009).

With their builder Nakheel struggling and not paying them, they had to make certain requirements and faced numerous unpredicted obstacles. Plenty of Arabtecs' workers received less than $160 on a monthly average and encountered what is known as "wage exploitation" and "hazardous working conditions". Creators and federal government have been under great pressure due to employee protests associated with labour problems. In 2007, about 40000 Arabtec construction labourers continued to be closeted in their camps without giving and abstained from working until their promise for a $55 pay increase per month was met. After having a strike that went on for 10 times, the workers arranged upon returning once they settled an agreement with Arabtec on a 20% climb (Bakr. A. 2007).

Arguments for the rights of the Labourers

What or who are labourers? To be placed into simple terms, they are the cogs that preserve a booming overall economy. They could also very well be the hands that contain built Dubai. Possessed it not been because of their effort, the U. A. E. 's overall economy wouldn't normally have been where it was today, a thriving one. As stated before, exploitation or present day slavery has turned into a problem in the U. A. E. , especially in Dubai. Very little light has been shed on the situation that labourers have been facing in the U. A. E. 's construction industry. The following will focus on the protection from the labourer's point of view about the issues they face daily.

Migrant staff in the U. A. E. constitute more than 80% of the populace, of which large numbers are in the engineering industry, comprising of a number of different Asian nationalities. Most of the time their effort and effort goes undetected and in the long run they have a tendency to be shunned from society. Just because they are not as satisfactory as some of the people who've received higher education doesn't mean that they need to be treated in a different way and a blind vision be considered the problems that they face. The labourers have the right to be cared for with equity and impartiality, rather than simply a form of expendable workforce.

Deontological (Kantian) Research:

According to the theory of Kantianism, we can judge people ethically by their amount of prefer to do the right thing. Categorical imperative 1 states a person should respond from moral guidelines that may be applied universally. Structure companies in the U. A. E. generally do not tend to follow this guideline, even although universal standard for humane treatment of labourers has been set down. Categorical very important 2 states that folks should not be treated as a means to a finish. It is clearly evident that the companies do use the labourers as a means to a finish. Labourers are generally performed overtime because the people sitting down behind their tables want their projects to complete on time, with no regard to the fighting that the labourers go through by working for 12 hour straight shifts.

Tricked with the offer of an improved tomorrow:

Construction companies and recruitment businesses tend to make full use of the labourers inadequacy, by giving them empty promises. It generally starts off with the big quantities that the workers have to pay to the recruitment companies back in their home country. The fees varying from $2000- $3000, almost all of which the workers had to borrow from others to be able to secure a working visa for U. A. E. The development companies also follow suit, by retaining the passports of the labourers upon their arrival. According to reports, interviews with the labourers have had them say that the firms would inform them that they would receive free housing at the labour camps, and then realise that these were attained with shanty town conditions hidden from the general public view. The living conditions were so bad that the workers were living stuffed many to a room, in such close proximity of every other.

According to the article that was put up by way of a BBC news reporter Ben Anderson, documentary facts confirmed that living quarters of the labourers appointed by Arabtec were quite worse off. The stench of organic sewage stuffed the camp, with the sewage flooding the camps. One of the toilet blocks possessed no water supply and the latrines were filled up with piles of organic faeces. Authorities also released numbers that exhibited that around 7500 of Arabtec's labourer's distributed 1248 rooms with poor ventilation, which is about 6 personnel cramped into each small room. However the buck did not stop there. Arabtec acquired also promised its employees proper wages, but in fact they were paid salary than what they were originally promised, that was even less than the international labour income standard. Workers would be lucky if indeed they even received their wages promptly, because almost each and every time their wage pay was either postponed or not paid. If we put ourselves in the labourers situation, we'd not even have the ability to endure on the meagerly salary that they acquire.

Held like prisoners against their will:

The problem is that some of the labourers don't feel just like retaliating over fear of losing the job they have got even through the downturn, because there are choices that they could be sent back any moment because the company is keeping their passport. Some of the labourers, who cannot stand the unjust treatment from the business, have performed protests, but results only were left with many of them being jailed or even deported. This was also because there is no possible method for a personnel union to be there with time of negotiation.

Construction companies like Arabtec need to understand the value of giving popularity back again to their workers instead of ruling over them with dread like modern day slaves. They must understand the importance of the labourers, because if they were all to leave then your building industry would collapse in the U. A. E.

Arguments for the defense of the companies

Utilitarian Research:

With the use of a consequentialist theory such as Utilitarianism, we can realize why one can argue that the actions of construction companies can't be judged as unethical. To be able to apply Utilitarianism, we must go through the better good that the actions achieve and the full total benefit/happiness produced, weighed contrary to the harms.

By working the labourers with their full potential, in order to follow the income and growth objectives of these companies, they were able to create hundreds of business towers and domestic complexes, creating homes and work place, which is beneficial to tens of thousands of residents and business people in the UAE. The UAE federal also benefited greatly because the trustworthiness of the country as an easy growing, metropolitan city was increased, which helped attract travellers and international investment. Arabtec itself was accountable for the engineering of the Burj Khalifa, a monumental structure, the tallest on the planet. The overworking of a few thousand labourers appears like a little price to cover the total good that was achieved consequently of the activities of these building companies, therefore we can not simply dub them as unethical.

Perspective of the companies:

It's super easy for all of us to point our fingers at construction companies and labour contractors in the UAE and accuse them of unfairly exploiting their employees. However, ethics is obviously two dimensional which is crucial that we also look at it from the point of view of companies such as Arabtec. Corporate Community Responsibility is conceptualized via a pyramid where ethical obligations are prioritized after economic and legal duties.

Companies such as Arabtec, Al Habtoor and Al Futtaim Structure have conducted their operations well within the UAE labour regulations, legislation and safety requirements, while they may have a right to pursue high income because they have a work to deliver good returns with their shareholders. It is also crucial to recognize that these companies were part of an extremely competitive property industry before financial meltdown struck the UAE a couple of years ago. Therefore it was necessary that they take good thing about the workforce available to them to be able to keep the growth levels they required during the UAEs construction growth. Their only other choice would have been to not take any action and risk shedding out market share to other large development companies. (Abdul, G. 2008)

Perspective of the labourers:

By considering the problem from the staff perspective, we should realize that almost all these men come to Dubai to escape the poverty that they face in their house countries, where they are simply left to undergo, struggling to find careers. Bruce Fenton, a reporter who been to Dubai, was told within an interview with a local taxi drivers, that labourers choose to stay in the UAE because even though these are worked hard, it is best than what they might face back in their own countries. Several of these labourers come from poorer parts of countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, where they would be left with no choice but to go on the pavements or die, if they chose to return back.

Furthermore, these personnel made their own decisions to come to Dubai, because they saw it as a land of opportunity, and they were not forced to take action by the firms that seek the services of them. Even though some critics dispute that some labourers are greatly with debt when they arrive in the UAE, having borrowed large amounts of profit order to make the journey, is it really fair to carry employers in charge of the personal decisions of these individuals? No it isn't, because the companies duties only include paying them the income they were guaranteed regularly and providing them with good working conditions, not compensating them for just about any debt they may have incurred because of bad personal choices

The Federal - Posting the blame:

The only reason that some companies can still act irresponsibly when coping using their labour workforce is because of what we believe is fragile labour regulations in the UAE, that are barely existent and don't give foreign workers the protection under the law they deserve. In most cases, even the lawful restrictions which do exist aren't properly enforced by official organizations and regulatory systems. So that it would be unreasonable to simply accuse construction companies of exploitation, since the legislation is not enforced highly enough to prevent workers being rooked.

However, recent conclusions such as the pursuing, show that the situation is improving - the Dubai Municipality granted several new compulsory requirements for migrant labourer cover, including the requirement of catered food, at the least 40 square feet of space per person, the provision of adequate ventilation, air-con and lighting, as well as a minimum variety of toilets, proportionate to the amount of workers surviving in each camp.





Number of projects



People working on-site

296, 093

276, 323

Man-hours worked

872, 485, 818

887, 072, 131

Lost-time incidents






Lost-time occurrence rate

0. 0791

0. 0597

Fatality occurrence rate

0. 0023

0. 0011

Source: Build Safe UAE

(Redfern, B. 2010)

The above figures, publicized by the Build Safe Firm, the sole company that conducts research related to on site building, show that happenings where time was lost have fallen by over 100 between 2008 and 2009, despite a rise of almost 100 in the number of projects. The key statistic is the amount of fatalities that was reduced by 50%, from 20 engineering related deaths to only 10. This research reflects the style that construction safety levels are improving therefore of the recently imposed legislation in 2007, and that companies aren't treating staff unethically or unfairly.

Putting it in perspective

Government may be partly responsible for their fragile labor laws, but still the complete burden cannot be placed about them. If we proceed through it step-by-step we can easily see that first, the burden fall after the agencies that produce false pledges to these hopeful employees and deceive them into paying a good-looking amount of money as original fees to be able to work in another country. It's the agencies mistake for funneling these workers into something where they don't receive some of what these were guaranteed. Instead, these employees conclude in poor living and working conditions with low pay and little scope of repaying their obligations which they inherited while trying to attain their dreams of having a better tomorrow for their households and paying the organizations their fees. The federal government should definitely look to find and stop these organizations from manipulating these individuals. Many companies have claimed that they know nothing at all about what these businesses are doing and how they bring these migrant staff to the country.

This brings our concentration to the firms who should also accept part of the responsibility for the injustice that occurs to their individuals. The firms should be kept accountable for the indegent conditions their employees are ornamented by and make an honest effort to boost these conditions. These businesses are well within their legal rights in doing the bare minimum and providing these laborers precisely what regulations requires these to. Corporate social responsibilities puts financial responsibility as the first top priority, so the companies are well of their rights to consider attaining an increased profit margin somewhat do more than what is required of these.

It may also be argued these workers are actually living in better conditions and getting higher pay than they might have if they had stayed in their house countries. They could have been promised more money and even more opportunity by these agencies, but they obtain 3 meals every day by law and income greater than what they acquired in their country.


It is the view of our group that there are certain measures which may be taken in order to repair these labour discrimination issues. First, it'll definitely improve the working conditions the federal government changed their polices on how personnel must be cured and paid. If the federal government will take the stand in changing their laws that profit the staff then companies would be obliged to listen and offer their employees with better income and accommodation. The unionization of the labor force can also be a start to a much better future for the labor force. UAE is among a picked few who never let a personnel union and more often than not hits by labourers lead to deportation. Permitting labor unions to create will give these labourers a location to tone their concerns and grievances. Subsequently, companies should impose stricter security regulations that will ensure the security of their workers both in the working place and in their living environment. Arabtec and also other companies have blamed the personnel for his or her own poor living conditions pointing to their insufficient hygiene, but if they impose stricter safe practices laws and coach the staff how to stay safe and live in a germ-free environment then such issues can be prevented. Companies can also change their ways and become a little more proactive by establishing their own criteria higher than what's required of them. Companies must have ethical laws which protect their personnel from discrimination and treat them with equality. If indeed they set their specifications higher, not only will the workers be happier and even more satisfied it will also motivate those to work harder.

In final result, companies shouldn't inherit all the blame considering everyone can has a part that can be played; even the staff; in making the labor situation better in the UAE.

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