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Sat 2 Jul 2005 04:00 AM

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Noon working curfew forces shift overhaul

Bombshell decision follows launch of Construction Week’s ‘Build Respect’ campaign

Contractors across the UAE were frantically re-arranging shift patterns yesterday following the introduction of a shock ban on midday working.

Thousands of site workers will no longer have to work in the heat of the midday sun as a result of the move by the government to ban working between 12.30pm and 4.30pm during July and August.

The decision was taken following the launch of CW’s ‘Build Respect’ campaign that aims to improve the working conditions of site workers.

Many contractors praised the move, but others have said the government has used a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Dutco Balfour Beatty site manager, Russil Kumar, said: “This decision should have been taken a long time ago.

“However, many contractors, particularly the small firms, will ignore it.”

But Louis Nel, site safety manager at Al Jaber Grinaker Engineering and Contracting said he thought the announcement was ‘extreme’.

He said: “Workers should be able to rest between 12.30pm and 2.30 pm. It’s not practical to have them resting until 4.30pm. Yes, labourers suffer from fatigue during the summer months, but they should be able to rest on site.

“I can’t see contractors abiding by the legislation. The government isn’t taking other factors into consideration, such as the financial costs, which will impact on jobs.”

The introduction of the ban has meant that many contractors are either starting work on sites earlier or extending nighttime working hours to ensure demanding project schedules are kept on track.

“It’s excellent that the labour minister has made this ruling. It’s a very humane move and I’m glad the UAE has done it.” “As for the contractors, I think they’ll now shift around the timings for the workers in order not to incur any losses.

“They’ll probably make them work later in the evenings,” said Krishnamurthy Kumar, convenor of the Indian Community Welfare Committee.

Labour minister Dr Ali Bin Abdullah al Ka’abi, warned contractors the ban will be strictly enforced, and he said that contractors who flout the new rules would be fined.

“It’s not human to labour during those hours of day,” he said.

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