UAE: Workers welcome midday break on day one

It offers them relief from high afternoon temperatures



File photo
File photo

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Wed 15 Jun 2022, 6:00 PM

Being able to return to their accommodations from the searing afternoon heat is “a relief” and “stress buster”, said workers in the UAE on Wednesday, the first day of the implementation of the midday break rule this summer.

At around 1pm, thousands of construction and outdoor workers were seen trooping back to their camps in areas such as Dubai’s Jebel Ali, Al Quoz and Sonapur, as well as in Sharjah. This is set to be repeated every afternoon for the next three months until September 15, after the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation implemented the midday break for the 18th consecutive year.

In line with the UAE’s commitment to occupational health and safety, the Ministry is aiming for a safe working environment for labourers and spare them the risk of exposure to high temperatures during the summer.

For workers, the move is a welcome one. Gauhar Ali, a mason living in the Servehub labour camp in Jabel Ali, said: “This rule is a great gesture from the authorities. It shows that they care for us, as we work in the hot sun.”

Ali, who has been in Dubai for 16 years now, working in various roles, added: “The midday break is a relief as we are exhausted during the day due to the heat. It helps us regain our energy levels for the second half of the day.”

Magumya Denis, a Ugandan who operates heavy machinery at the construction sites of Etihad Rail, said buses are ready to pick workers up from their job-sites at 12.30pm to take them back to their accommodations for rest. “It is hot outside and I often feel dizzy. This midday break of a few hours during the hottest part of the day is such a breather and stress buster for us. I feel so refreshed when I resume work after the break.”

Activities during midday break

After returning to their accommodations, some workers head straight for their beds to rest, while a few prepare lunch. “We cook by turns. For the next seven days, I will be cooking for seven of us. One is assigned to wash dishes and the rest take a quick nap,” said Khalid Ahmed, a construction worker.

After lunch, several workers talk to their families back home, watch movies, chit chat or listen to music – all away from the oppressive afternoon sun. “I connect with my family back home. That is what keeps us motivated to work hard and provide the bread and butter for them,” said Denis.

Muhammed Amir Sohail, supervisor at Servehub in Jabel Ali, said the midday break does the workers a lot of good, so he and his supervisory staff do their bit to help, “We are ready with all the maintenance work in the camp to provide the required necessities for them. I switch on the air conditioner at 12pm so that when they enter, they find their spaces already cooled, These are small ways in which I can contribute to making their lives easier,” said Sohail.

Providing refreshments

Raja Niaz, a construction site supervisor working in the UAE for 15 years, supervises a site at Dubai’s DIP, which has nearly 400 workers. “Irrespective of what a labourer is working on, we stop all activities at the site the moment it is time for the midday break. The company provides shelters, coolers, cool water and glucose for the workers to boost their energy levels,” added Niaz.

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