Geneva – Thousands of migrant workers have left the UAE after losing their jobs, as they were subjected to discriminatory measures during the economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic considering lack of appropriate government support measures, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and IRDG said in joint speech at the Human Rights Council 46th session.
Making up about 90% of the total workforce in the country, migrant workers have been suffering from formal discriminatory practices in the field of health care and arbitrary labor laws, since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Delivered by Euro-Med Monitor researcher Thomas William, the speech said that while the state provides its citizens with high-level health care services to protect them from the virus, migrant workers struggle to obtain quality medical care. This is due to the many government-imposed restrictions on them and the exorbitant costs they pay for the services citizens enjoy for free.
The speech added that, in March 2020, the government allowed private companies to amend migrant workers' contracts, allowing them to impose unpaid leave and permanent or temporary salary cuts. This allows these companies to reduce the number of expatriate workers and permanently reduce their salaries, while Emirati workers enjoy legal protection, and receive their full wages.
The two organizations called on the UAE government to assume its responsibilities under the Durban Declaration and ensure equal access to medical protection and appropriate health care for citizens and foreigners alike and end discrimination-based laws and procedures against migrant workers.