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Dubai couriers strike for better pay and conditions

COURIERS across Dubai were on strike today for the second time in weeks over poor pay and conditions, despite harsh laws against dissent in the United Arab Emirates.

The foreign workers contracted by Talabat, the Middle East unit of Delivery Hero, began their walkout after organising on social media, crippling the application’s services.

Riders, who are mostly from African and Asian countries, are calling for a pay rise to about £2.20 per deliver, up from £1.65.

Workers said that they are being squeezed by rising gas prices and are having to pay out of pocket as they often travel about 300-400km a day.

Riders said they also face a mountain of other costs draining their salaries, including visa fees to contractors who secured their jobs in Dubai, toll charges, regular motorcycle maintenance costs like oil changes and hospital expenses due to a lack of accident insurance.

The workers are left with little cash to pay rent and send back home to families they support.

Khan, a 24-year-old Talabat driver and breadwinner for his family of nine in Pakistan, said he can barely make ends meet in Dubai even though he has not taken a day off in three months and works 15 hours a day.

He has been struck by cars twice and injured his foot on the job but could never afford to get treatment.

“I’m not striking for me or for my friends. I know it’s not good for us,” he said.

“It’s for the future. For guys like us, coming here to Dubai.”

It follows an earlier protest by Deliveroo workers, who were able to secure £2.26 per delivery and force the company to backtrack on plans to cut workers’ pay and extend their hours.

Taking strike action and unionising is illegal in the UAE.

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