A comparative study between United Arab Emirates-- and South African labour law
Bloem, Dirk Cornelius Jonathan
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When working in a foreign country a tough and sometimes most difficult obstacle that is faced by the so-called "ex-patriots" are the local laws practiced in the country of choice. The South African Arms Industry has various agreements with foreign countries with respect to co-operation and working relations on knowledge sharing. One such a country is the United Arab Emirates that act as a springboard for the marketing and distribution of military equipment in the Middle East. This includes placement of personnel in the Emirates by an employment agency. Labour law in the UAE is interwoven with religious principles found in the Qur'an and the Shari'ah. The labour laws, as practiced, have a long and enduring history in the UAE which must first be understood in order for a full understanding of the ensuing UAE labour law, as found in Federal Law, no 8 of 1980, Regulation of Labour Relations, as amended by Federal Laws, no 24 of 1981, no 15 of 1985 and no 12 of 1986. Employees are however still not able to form unions or go on strike as these are strictly forbidden in the UAE. The ministry however does guarantee swift action against employers misusing their workers. If a worker should feel disgruntled against the employer, it is his or her free choice to report such a claim at the Ministry of Labour in Abu Dhabi or any of the other regional offices found in and around the UAE. Labour laws in SA are interwoven. Therefore with all the different acts interacting upon each other it is not possible to look at all the acts. The author has therefore only selected the following acts to contemplate what is meant by the complexity of the SA labour acts. Labour law in SA is comprehensive and full of intrigue when compared to that of the UAE. The labour law in the UAE is not very complex in nature when viewed offhand, but when viewed in conjunction with the Shari'ah and other laws pertaining to the region it aims to serve. SA labour law is written with a specific view of protection of both the rights of the employee and that of the employer. It has an immense historical background, that when viewed in totality, gives rise to the feeling of over regulation on the part of the Government compared to its predecessors. The research clearly indicate that the expatriates in the UAE does have a working knowledge of the labour law that is prevailing in the UAE. The fact that the laws are intertwined with that of religious laws of the Shari'ah and Qur'an is of little consequence to them, as they are selling their labour. The lack of understanding of these laws has' clearly paved the way for another research to be conducted into these aspects. In so far as the SA labour legislation is concerned it is far more controlled, regulated and directed from a formal basis as that of the UAE. When a company decides to engage in commerce in the UAE it is vitally important that the culture be studied first, as well as all statutes that regulate business within such a country. It is further important to note that the exploitation of workers in general is not tolerated anymore. Does it occur? Yes it does but be warned, in the GCC countries it will in future not be tolerated as the global pressure is mounting for reform.