UAE: Labourers ‘chill’ as annual midday break takes effect

Dubai - The annual midday break for workers started on Tuesday and will continue until September 15.

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By Saman Haziq

Published: Tue 15 Jun 2021, 10:12 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Jun 2021, 10:15 PM

As the UAE begins to sizzle, with temperatures soaring to over 50 degrees, outdoor workers on Tuesday made the most of their two-and-a-half-hour reprieve from the summer heat.

The annual midday break for workers started on Tuesday and will continue until September 15. During this period, outdoor labour is banned between 12.30pm and 3pm.

South Asian gardener Hafiz Mohammed Nafees, who works in the landscaping department of a real estate company since 2012, called the break a “luxury”.

“We gardeners have to work outdoors in the heat all day due to the nature of our job. At times, I even black-out due to the scorching heat, so I was really looking forward to this break as it allows us to rest. To take a nap in the afternoon is a luxury for us, as our job requires us to be out in the sun all the time. I wish this rule can be implemented across the world, especially in our home countries, where heat-waves claim so many lives,” said Nafees, as he sat under a huge tree, chatting with friends. He and his co-workers would resume work at 3.30pm.

Enjoying a bottle of chilled juice in a makeshift shelter set up by his company, block mason Sagheer said he felt immense gratitude towards the UAE government for thinking about workers’ welfare. He also thanked his company for going the extra mile by providing refreshments and an air-conditioned shelter.

“For me, these three months [of midday break] are like summer vacations. Although we work the same number of hours, the break allows us to rest in comfortable shelters and enjoy the juice and dates our employer has provided. We all feel so refreshed and re-energised. Being shielded from the afternoon sun helps us avoid heat exhaustion,” he said, adding that he also took an afternoon siesta and spoke to his family during the break.

Vijay, an engineer at Golden Apex Technical Services, who is in charge of a number of outdoor workers, said: “Apart from taking care of our workers and providing them with refreshments and a good place to rest, we are also giving our staff the option to work in night shifts, where possible, during the summer months. But in residential areas, where that is not possible, we ensure our staff rests in the afternoon.”

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