x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Labourers lament end of two-and-a-half hour break during hottest part of day despite dropping temperatures.

Labourers get back to work on Reem Island after their midday break in Abu Dhabi. Sunday is the last day where workers will be able to take advantage of the 3 hour break to escape the summer heat. Sammy Dallal / The National
Labourers get back to work on Reem Island after their midday break in Abu Dhabi. Sunday is the last day where workers will be able to take advantage of the 3 hour break to escape the summer heat. Sammy Dallal / The National

Work ground to a halt on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island at 2pm yesterday.

The site of major new developments in the capital, the area was quiet with no one visible on or around the large sites.

But the lull in activity was only temporary, said a group of workers who were walking out of their accommodation and about to climb on one of several company buses waiting nearby.

“Back to duty,” said Roshan Givanram, a labourer from India, as he was boarding the bus at 2.20pm.

The 30-year-old’s working day had started at 6am, with work continuing until noon. Then, as per rules set by the Ministry of Labour, he and his colleagues took a break between 12.30pm and 3pm.

Sunday will be the last day when workers can take advantage of the summer midday break, which was first made compulsory for construction workers in 2005.

An employee of Combined Group Contracting, Mr Givanram said he had enjoyed having the break and prefers a longer rest period during the day.

Over in Dubai, there was a similar sentiment among workers.

Ashok, a manual labourer from Pakistan, said that although the weather was beginning to cool, it was still tough.

“We have to wear our uniform and helmets with heavy boots in addition to doing very tiring work that makes us hot so it is still very tiring,” he said.

“The midday break is very good for us but I think we still need this. We have very long days and it is very humid.”

Sanjay, from Bangladesh, also works in Dubai. He said he would be sad to lose the midday break, adding: “We drink water and still we are very hot and very tired. Now it is still 45 degrees in the day sometimes, which is very hard for us to work in.”

Abdul, from Pakistan, manages a small team of workers on a site in Al Barsha.

He said: “It is very hard to work in this still. They get very tired and there is nothing we can do about it.

“We have to meet our targets and get our work done so we just have to try to do our best to work through it.

“I wish the midday break was for a little longer because my workers just get so hot. With all the equipment, which lets off heat, and the dust, it is very hard.

“They are doing manual labour and sometimes there is no shade to hide under.”

vtodorova@thenational.ae

mswan@thenational.ae