Nicosia, Feb 8: A report in Emirates Business suggest that about 20,000 Indian construction workers are being flown out of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by their employers on bulk-booked Indian airlines flights by next March. This is due to the fact that more than half the construction projects in the UAE, which were estimated at 1.28 trillion dollars, had been put on hold as a result of the global financial crisis.
Sources say that the Indian workers are either being sent back home on long leave, or are being redeployed to work on projects in other Gulf countries, such as Qatar and Abu Dhabi.
Venu Rajamony, Indian Consul General in Dubai, said the bulk bookings indicated that the financial crisis was now impacting on the one million Indian workers currently employed in the UAE. He pointed out that the financial crisis has not created a mass termination of workers, but insisted that the construction companies were relocating surplus staff to Doha, Qatar, or other cities in the region, or sending them on long leaves.
It should be noted that Indians form the largest number of foreign labour force in the UAE accounting for 42.5 percent of the total number of workers in the country, according to a study carried out by the Agency for Developing Human Resources and Recruiting UAE Nationals (Tanmia). The study found that 75 percent of the expatriate labour force in the UAE comes from Asian countries and a majority of them is from India.
Commenting on recent reports about 25,000-30,000 work visa cancellations in Dubai, Rajamony said that the figure was normal and did not constitute evidence of mass termination of work. He added that the emigration authorities had recently issued 13,000 new visas and that the UAE Ministry of Labour had warned companies to strictly follow the labour laws and settle all claims before sending workers back home.