According to statistics, the Dispute Settlement Section at the Information and Follow-up Department of the Directorate General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Abu Dhabi have resolved 1243 disputes between domestic workers and their employers in 2014, an increase of 171 cases compared to 1072 disputes settled in 2013.

The section announced that 28% out of the 1243 cases were settled amicably in 2014. Administrative procedures were invoked in some of these complaints; other cases were referred to court to be litigated in the normal matter.

Colonel Salim Ali Al Qattam Al Zaabi, Director General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Abu Dhabi, attributed the growing number of complaints this year to the awareness campaigns that acquainted community members with the role undertaken by the Dispute Settlement Sections in resolving any disputes that may arise between domestic workers and their employers. He said: “Spreading awareness has significantly reduced cases of absconding workers who were ignorant of the procedures of disputes settlement. Therefore, the increased number of complaints reflects workers’ awareness of their rights and proves that they are well-informed on the relevant authorities they can invoke for resolution of any dispute.”

Colonel Al Zaabi also stressed the valuable role played by the section in amicably resolving worker-employer disputes, especially in cases of simple financial disputes regarding late wages, or misunderstanding between workers and their sponsors, to the satisfaction of both parties to the dispute. “This would have the effect of reducing processing time and alleviating the load of work in Courts,” he continued.

For his part, Colonel Saeed Salem Balhas Al Shamesi, Head of Information and Follow-up Department, said that the most common disputes resolved by the section were non –payment of salary; absconding workers; physical abuse; workers refusing to work; withholding  passports, unsuitable work environment; cancellation of residency permit at the end of the contract period; and non renewal of residency.

Adding further, Colonel Al Shamesi explained that complaints can be filed at the Customer Service Department at the directorate. “All applications are then registered and classified, and a date will be set for complainants. Complaints are then referred to competent authorities for arbitration, in a bid to reach an amicable settlement. If any dispute cannot be settled amicably, the case is then referred to the court,” he noted. In conclusion, he stressed the ministry’s keenness to investigating all cases according to the provisions of the law, including regular disputes or violations reported between workers and sponsors, noting that all violators are referred to competent authorities.

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