Commenting on the proposed labour legislation, UAE Labour Minister Ali al-Kaabi says: “It was discussed at the GCC meetings and there will be future discussions in 2008 to determine the definition of an unskilled worker.”

Firms fear the cap will force them to employ inexperienced workers who are not capable of working on major projects.

The minister also revealed it commissioned a study two months ago to examine a minimum wage for the UAE.

“A study is being conducted by Tanmia and we will wait and see what the results are,” he says.
No timeframe has been set for the study. “We want to involve everyone from the private sector and come up with something good, so we don’t want to put a date on it,” says Al-Kaabi. “I want a detailed report so I did not put a deadline on the study.”

The minister also says that setting a minimum wage is complex. “There are many issues,” he says. “Do we have a minimum federal wage or one for each emirate, because they all have different rents and living costs?”

The ministry had announced that it would introduce a minimum wage in March.

The announcement was welcomed by contractors working in the construction industry because it would help to prevent many of the strikes that result from wage disputes.