DUBAI (AFP) - - Four thousand Asian labourers working in Dubai will be deported after they staged illegal strikes at the weekend over poor wages and working conditions, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Senior labour ministry official Humaid bin Deemas told the Arabic newspaper Emarat Al-Youm there would be a "deportation of 4,000 labourers who went on strike and committed acts of vandalism.
"The appropriate bodies have been contacted to carry out the necessary measures (for their deportation)," he added. "The labourers do not want to work and we will not force them to."
The authorities in the United Arab Emirates took the decision after several thousand manual workers downed tools and reportedly occupied and vandalised a building before attacking police and vehicles with stones on Saturday.
On Sunday, the strike spread to three other areas in the city-state, with the local press reporting 3,100 workers involved, but police moved in and returned the strikers to their accommodation blocks.
Such protests are rare in the UAE, where strike action is outlawed and workers are not allowed to form labour unions.
According to officials cited by local media, the protesters were demanding a wage rise of between 600 and 1,000 dirhams (140 and 270 dollars) a month, improved transport to construction sites and better housing.
Dubai, part of the UAE federation, has experienced a huge boom in its economy in recent years fuelled to a large degree by the growth of the construction sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of foreign workers across the Gulf state.
Predominantly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the labourers travel thousands of miles to work in the region so they can send money home to their families.