With midday break, workers take it easy

ABU DHABI/DUBAI — Labourers were seen relaxing under trees and in the shade during the two-and-a-half-hour midday break which came into effect yesterday as most companies dutifully implemented the break between 12.30pm and 3pm. Several of them had intimated their employees in advance and held meetings to brief them on the two-month break.

By Preeti Kannan, Mary Nammour And Ahmed Abdul Aziz

Published: Mon 2 Jul 2007, 8:34 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:57 AM

Minister of Labour Dr Ali bin Abdullah Al Kaabi, during a press conference yesterday in the capital, warned employers to abide by the ministerial decision on the extended midday break and said violators would not be spared.

The minister said that with the recruitment of 281 more inspectors, the number has gone up to 350. These inspectors would visit construction sites across the country to ensure that the midday break rule is being implemented.

“During the two months we will concentrate on the midday break. The inspectors are trained to carry out inspections effectively,” said Dr Al Kaabi.

“The inspectors would investigate violations, they would visit the sites and check workers’ labour cards and take photographs of labourers while they are enjoying their noon break,” Dr Al Kaabi added.

Meanwhile, speaking to Khaleej Times, Rakesh Kumar, a construction worker, said, “Our company held a meeting yesterday and gave us a circular of the midday break with the timings. Since it is time-consuming to go back to our camps, we will rest in the shade close by and resume work at 3pm.”

Suman Kapoor and his co-workers who were having lunch under a date palm tree, said, “We have been told that our lunch hour will be extended for the next two months because of the heat. However, we cannot sit at the site as it is too hot in the rooms and there are no air-conditioners or fans. That is why we are sitting under the tree to get some respite from the scorching sun.”

He complained that the water supply at the site was erratic and workers did not have enough water to drink.

However, companies like Al Ahli Contracting Company have made alternative arrangements for labourers to spend their break. Sarajeddine, civil engineer of the company pointed out, “We have a building where the labourers can spend their break. In the last couple of years, we used to transport labourers back to the labour camps during the break. But, this year, I don’t think we will be able to do that because of the traffic.”

Al Sahel Contracting Company, also stressed that apart from implementing the midday break rule for two years now, they also have nine construction sites with air-conditioned shelters.

The Vice-Chairman of the Technical Committee of the UAE Contractors’ Association, Imad Khamis Al Jamal, while welcoming the decision, said that the break would result in 10-20 per cent additional costs for companies.

“Stopping work for two months adds to the cost of the company. Internal work, where air-conditioning or fans are available, should at least be allowed. Besides, contractors have not made allowance in their budgets for the break and they should be given three years’ time to prepare for the costs, before the break is implemented,” he said.

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