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03ABUDHABI941 2003-02-26 08:39:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Abu Dhabi
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1. (U) The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs completed
the final draft of a proposal permitting the creation of
full-fledged labor unions, on 2/24. The plan will be
reviewed by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of
Justice, Islamic Affairs and Awqaf before a final proposal
is submitted to the Cabinet. After approval by the Cabinet,
the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will enact a bylaw
to institute the new policy. The Ministry will also
establish a new department responsible for handling matters
related to labor unions.

2. (U) Under the draft proposal, the Labour Ministry will
establish membership conditions for new unions. A worker is
defined as a "person who works in a public or private
organization and gets paid for his work." Groups of twenty
or more nationals working in a profession or trade will be
permitted to organize to protect their rights and interests.
Organizations will be allowed to join Arab or international
trade unions and the proposal also refers to the possibility
of establishing a unified labor federation in the UAE.
Expatriate laborers working in the UAE for more than six
years will be allowed to join as associate members but will
not be permitted to vote or contest elections.

3. (SBU) Comment: The draft proposal by the Labour Ministry
is another step in the right direction by the UAEG to bring
domestic labor laws into conformity with international
standards. While workers here continue to have considerable
rights of association -- and there have even been strikes
(often by expatriates over non-payment of wages) -- these
new proposals will officially ensure workers' rights to
organize and bargain collectively. The Embassy will follow-
up with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on the
draft proposal and monitor its movement through the