Al Habtoor Engineering employees returned to work after being informed that any pay increase would depend on productivity

Labourers in Dubai who went on strike on Monday over wage levels have been told to work harder to earn pay rises.

Hundreds of labourers working for Al Habtoor Engineering took to the streets in the emirate, where the building industry has been hit by a severe slowdown, with around $300m of projects on hold and property prices falling by around 50%.

The striking workers agreed to return to work on Tuesday after holding talks with their employer.

Al Habtoor Engineering's managing director, David Savage, told today that the workers were informed that they must increase productivity in order to earn more money. The workers earn between 500 dirhams ($136) and 700 dirhams per month, reportedly.

Savage said the result of the talks had been “to clarify for the workforce that their ability to earn more salary, through whatever mechanism, is there, and it's tied to productivity. And with that explanation they've been satisfied and willing to go back to work.”

Savage did not explain precisely how productivity could be measured. He said: “It depends. There are very, very many different ways. It depends on what the person's role is... Productivity is not a simple issue. The company earns value based on its output so if a worker, including one of the labourers, is productive, then we are happy to share the proportion of revenue.”