Three-month midday break for workers from today

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Three-month midday break for workers from today
L to R: Sukhbir Singh, 30, India; Rahul Nireadi, 25, India; and Layal Mohammed, 29, Bangladesh

Dubai - The midday break has been made compulsory by the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for workers.

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Thu 15 Jun 2017, 6:38 PM

Last updated: Sat 17 Jun 2017, 8:52 AM

Labourers are grateful that the compulsory midday break has arrived as temperatures reach an all time high in the summer.
Many labourers, who work in open construction sites, are also fasting for the month of Ramadan - making the heat and heavy labour unbearable.
These blue-collar workers often work long hours, sometimes more than six hours straight, under the scorching heat - with daytime temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius.
The midday break has been made compulsory by the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation for workers from June 15 to September 15. The break is from 12.30pm to 3pm.
Layal Mohammed, a Bangladeshi worker who earns less than Dh2,000 per month, told Khaleej Times he almost fainted once under the heat.
"It's really hot. Each year it feels as if the sun is getting closer to the ground. We need a break and not just during these months, but starting April. That's when the heat starts," the 29-year-old said.
"For now, I'm happy that we are getting this break at least. It's not easy when you are fasting."
Rahul Nireadi, an Indian worker, said the dust mixed with the humidity and heat makes it "impossible" for the workers to breathe. Nireadi, 25, said that the break allows him to take some rest under shade.
"It's not like we can get whatever we request for. We have to be grateful for what we get. And I think it's a blessing that we get a few hours off at least. Especially, if it's time off in the afternoon - that's when it's really bad," he said.
Arosh Mohammed, a worker from Bangladesh, said he tolerates the heat for the sake of his family back home.
"I think my family was happier to hear about the midday break than I was. I can keep going for them. But they worry about me and want me to get rest too," he said.
Working hours will be divided into two shifts for the workers according to the rules of the midday break - morning and evening shifts, with a total of eight working hours. If workers exceed that number, they must be compensated.
Inspections will be made at construction sites to ensure the rules are being followed. Violators will be fined Dh5,000 per person, if labourers are found working during the break hours, up to a maximum Dh50,000 if the case involves a large number of workers.
The company will be downgraded with considerations of temporally stopping its right to function.
Sukhbir Singh, an Indian worker, hopes the break will be extended until end of October.
"It's wishful thinking. Any worker would be so happy if that happened. But it seems unlikely," he said.
Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Surour, deputy director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, and chairman of the standing committee for labour affairs in Dubai, said: "The committee will conduct seven patrols. There will be three inspectors in each patrol, representing the labour committee, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and the Dubai Municipality to ensure full enforcement of the midday ban as per regulations in this respect."
He noted the decision ensures the protection of workers and provides a safe working environment as well as occupational safety for them during their work.

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