A Dubai employee welfare advocate has embraced the power of social media to offer support to thousands of blue-collar workers.
Abdulla Lashkari, secretary general of the Permanent Committee for Labour Affairs, has become an online hit thanks to his TikTok videos and live streams on labour issues, which have racked up millions of views.
The interactive approach is part of a broader outreach scheme operated by the PCLA, a body that aims to bolster the well-being of workers and widen understanding of their legal rights.
Mr Lashkari speaks in Urdu during his talks, which are also broadcast on Instagram, with 13,000 tuning in on Saturday when he spoke about the committee's role in helping workers.
A video in May in which he answered questions about how people can seek assistance with workplace complaints has been viewed 5.8 million times.
Another that stressed the importance of abiding by safety measures at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic amassed more than two million views.
Mr Lashkari said he is always ready to offer a helping hand to employees seeking advice.
“I’m not only available on TikTok, but also have a mobile phone number dedicated to answer calls, text and WhatsApp messages from workers,” he said.
“There are other channels on social media, landlines and also my office is always open for workers to come and ask for help or inquire about anything.”
Mr Lashkari has developed a keen following for his efforts to educate and enlighten blue-collar workers on their rights.
Mohamad Adeel, a delivery rider for Careem, said the PCLA's TikTok platform was a valuable resource.
“I always follow it and get answers to my questions or those of friends of mine,” said the 28-year-old, from Pakistan.
“I watch all of Mr Abdulla’s videos. He goes by the name ‘angel for workers’ or 'star of Dubai among workers'.”
Before he joined Careem four years ago, he worked in the construction industry and said he knew nothing about the law.
“Only when I approached the committee through its TikTok and other channels that I became aware of laws, my rights and where to go if faced by a problem.”
Faiz Rasool, 26, from Pakistan, worked in a car repair shop for four years. He turned to the PCLA for help when he had trouble renewing his visa.
“They helped me and a roommate of mine who faced the same problem,” he said.
“Its not only information they give us ― which important ― but they make us feel visible, appreciated and part of the community,” Mr Rasool said.
Helping workers to know their rights
The PCLA holds events for labourers, from sports competitions and free medical services to social activities and regular awareness campaigns about labour regulations and their legal entitlements.
“We succeeded in reaching out to more than 400,000 workers, but this is an ongoing process,” said Maj Gen Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, head of the PCLA.
The committee partners with police, the courts, municipality teams and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, among others.
“We follow all aspects related to workers lives, including inspections on accommodations to make sure they meet standards,” Mr bin Suroor said.
The committee acts as a mediator to resolve disputes between employers and employees.
“We have been able to resolve the majority of disputes we dealt with,” he said.
"In addition to addressing their problems we educate them about UAE culture, labour and immigration laws, regulations, health and safety."