x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Welfare group plans activities for labourers

More than 6,000 labourers who work for Dubai Municipality will also have a chance to watch movies, play cricket and attend concerts.

Men take turns to knock down cans at a stall during the third annual Labour Workers Day at a work camp in Dubai.
Men take turns to knock down cans at a stall during the third annual Labour Workers Day at a work camp in Dubai.

DUBAI // International Labour Day may be over, but a host of activities for manual workers will continue for months.

Movie screenings, music lessons, sports contests and a singing competition are among the events organised by the municipality and welfare groups. Workers will also receive free du telephone cards so they can call home.

"We don't want labourers to be left out or feel lonely. We want them to be occupied and busy," said K Kumar, the convener of the Indian Community Welfare Committee, which is organising some of the events in cooperation with the Community Development Authority.

Their events will be held at labour camps including Dulsco, Al Ahmadiya and Wade Adams.

"Some companies have come forward to sponsor the telephone cards and distribute them to workers," said Mr Kumar. "We are expecting thousands of labourers to benefit because of the initiative.

"Movies with socially relevant messages will be screened to motivate the workers."

Music lessons in the tabla, violin and flute will be on offer for three months, as well as English and computer courses.

Awareness sessions on the health risks of illegal alcohol and drugs will be held at the camps. "After the presentations, doctors will be there to help workers quit drinking or taking drugs," said Mr Kumar.

A free medical camp, organised by the Indian Ladies Association, will be available in the auditorium of the Indian consulate in Dubai on Friday.

The clinic, which will run between 8am and 12 noon, will be open to those who earn less than Dh2,000 a month and do not have health insurance.

Any medicines prescribed by doctors at the clinic will be sponsored by the Aster Pharmacy.

More than 6,000 labourers who work for Dubai Municipality will also have a chance to watch movies, play cricket and attend concerts as part of the civic body's month-long International Workers' Day festival.

The festival was launched yesterday by Hussain Nasser Lootah, the municipality's director general, at its labour accommodation in Muhaisana.

Musical acts have been booked to entertain workers in Arabic and Indian languages, and South Asian movies will be screened.

"There will also be lectures that will raise awareness on health issues, such as HIV/Aids," said Ali Al Ghaffri, senior marketing manager and project manager for the festival.

"UAE Exchange will hold awareness programmes on how workers should be careful about fraud when doing money transactions."

The events will take place in the evenings from 7pm to 10pm and throughout the day on Fridays.

Five hundred of the most honest and hard-working civic labourer s will also be honoured during the month.

The ICWC-linked charity Savera has also selected 50 labourers to take part in their communications course that begins on May 4 in Al Quoz.

The course will teach participants basic communication etiquette such as how to introduce themselves and discuss their skills and occupation.

"The focus of the programme is to ensure participants gain confidence and learn how to interact with the multinational workforce in the UAE and thus move forward in their jobs and career," said Nita Mathur, chairman of Savera.

"It has been noted many times that the key to success is some confidence and the ability to express oneself. That is what we aim to equip each of our participants with."

The course was planned in coordination with two other workers' charities, Smartlife and Sarbat Da Bhala.

"It is a good thing that some kind of entertainment activity is being planned for us," said Manjinder Singh, 23, who lives at a labour camp in Sonapur.

"Our salary is so small that we can't even afford to go out to watch a movie. We mostly restrict ourselves to our labour camps during weekends."

Mr Singh, who works as a driver and hails from Gurdaspur district in Punjab, said the workers' only source of entertainment on their days off was watching television.

"Even if we speak to our family, it is only for a short time," he said. "Some people get into bad habits like drinking due to loneliness."

frahman@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Preeti Kannan