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Sat 28 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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Companies warned on mid-day work bans

Labour Ministry warns firms found violating mid-day work ban this year face stiff fines.

The Ministry of Labour has warned that any company found violating the mid-day work ban this year will face stiff fines.

Speaking to Construction Week at its GCC Labour Summit held last week, Alex Zalami, advisor to the Minister of Labour - International Affairs said: "No violation of the mid-day work ban will be tolerated this year."

Last year several companies were penalised for violating the mid-day work ban, according to the UAE Ministry of Labour.

The mid-day work ban in the UAE requires all construction companies to stop work onsite between the hours of 12.30 to 3pm from 1 July to 31 August.

"We take worker rights very seriously and will not tolerate any violation of it," said Zalami.

"The reason for the mid-day work ban is to protect the workers from the mid-day sun during the hottest summer months."

"This has been incorporated into the law and any violation of it will be punishable."

This is the third consecutive year that the mid-day work ban has been enforced.

Heba El Shazli, regional program director, Middle East, for the American Center for International Labour Solidarity, described the mid-day work ban as "a positive move" by the UAE Ministry of Labour.

"We applaud it but we would also like to see more done in terms of freedom of association and the right for (workers) to have some sort of representation," said Shazli.

"So far, all parties besides the workers have representation. So if the government and the employers are represented why aren't the workers represented too?"

Meanwhile, Bahrain's Labour Minister said he would not relax the laws on outdoor work bans during the hottest hours of July and August.

This follows pressure from Bahraini businessmen and contractors who want to work through the ban.

Majeed Al Alawi said the law would not be changed for contractors and construction firms.

The contractors had argued the nature of building work demanded continuous effort.

A leading contractor was recently fined for making 128 workers work during the noon-4pm ban.

Bahrain last month said it would maintain the two-month ban it introduced last year to protect the health of thousands of labourers at construction sites.

RELATED LINKS:Labour campaign, Worker conditions fall short of fair treatment

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