Monday, September 28, 2009

Dubai Strike

According to BBC News:
A strike at the site of the Burj Dubai - expected to be the world's tallest building - has entered its second day...2,500 labourers at the Dubai site have walked out in a row over pay and working conditions, which sparked a night of violence two days ago...The workers are employed by Dubai-based firm Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke.
Ironically, Al Naboodah (one half of the joint venture) "believes caring is the most important tradition," according to their recent rebranding strategy (PDF link). The hollowness of such a statement is apparent in the low wages and general lack of reasonable care given to their employees.

Missing image - burj_dubai1.jpg
Burj Dubai many, many years from now

The BBC continues:
...The builders...are demanding better wages, overtime pay, improved medical care and better treatment from their foremen...Pay for the workers ranges from US$7.60 per day for a skilled carpenter, with labourers getting $4 per day...a riot by the disgruntled workers - who smashed cars, offices and construction vehicles - caused an estimated $1m of damage...The labourers have since returned to the construction site, but have refused to pick up their tools, halting work at building surrounding the Burj Dubai.
An AKI article states that 36 floors of its unspecified total number (to keep the overall height a secret) have been built. As can be seen comparing the highly idealized rendering above to the February aerial shot below, it will be a long time not only before the Burj Dubai is complete (anticipated to be 2008) but before its context isn't one big construction site itself. Early visitors to Armani's hotel when it opens in this Wizard of Oz-like tower will be staying in the middle of a construction zone.

Missing image - burj_dubai2.jpg
Burj Dubai in foreground; image found here

Finally, the BBC concludes:
Prestigious projects, like the recent $ 4.1bn airport expansion in Dubai, rely mainly on workers from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. These workers are cheap, usually earning less than $300 a month."
I have to admit that stuff like this makes me so angry it's hard to facilitate a response. The use and abuse of poorer people in poorer countries by places like Dubai and the United States is just another part of the situation where a few rich people own and get most of the pie. Personally, I'm glad to see the laborers and other construction workers taking things into their own hands and standing up for fair wages and the least in terms of striking, not rioting. Let's hope there's a good outcome to all this effort, whatever and whenever that is.


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