Construction workers stage rare protest in Dubai over pay

DUBAI (Reuters) - Hundreds of foreign construction workers staged a rare public protest outside the opulent Dubai Mall on Tuesday in a pay dispute with their company, witnesses said.

Dubai authorities deployed riot police to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in downtown Dubai, where the world's tallest building is located, blocking some roads while negotiators tried to settle a dispute about overtime pay.

The workers, from south Asia, said the company had stopped overtime work and pay at a time when basic salaries were too low.

The Dubai government media office, in a message over Twitter, said Dubai police helped to resolve the dispute."Within an hour, Dubai Police resolved issues of Fountain Views workers gathered in Boulevard demanding bonus," it said.

Workers, wearing green uniforms, remained at their construction site near Dubai Mall while negotiations went on. They cheered and applauded when they were informed that the dispute had been settled and as police began leaving the area.

Mohammed, a Pakistani employee of Arabian Construction Co, said a worker's basic salary was less than 500 dirhams (S$189) and with overtime pay, one could make around 1,100 dirhams.

"We don't have overtime work any more so we're striking. I'm not afraid to ask for my rights," he said.

Details of the agreement were not immediately clear and officials from the company were not available to comment despite attempts to contact them by telephone and email.

Dubai, the business and tourism hub of the United Arab Emirates, is enjoying a construction boom following its recovery from the 2008 financial crisis; hundreds of thousands of migrant workers staff the UAE's building sites. Dissent is tightly controlled and public protests are generally prohibited.