Some companies give two hoots to midday work ban

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Laborers were found to be working under the hot sun in clear violation of the labor ministry's directive. — Courtesy photo

​Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH – Repeated warnings from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development against forcing laborers to work under the hot sun during summer have fallen on deaf ears of the managment of some companies.

According to the ministry directive employees were not to work under the sweltering sun from 12 noon to 3 p.m. during June 15 to Sept. 15.

Al-Madina Arabic daily’s reporters visited construction sites in Jeddah during the banned working hours in the summer and found at least 80 employees were doing different jobs under the sun, endangering their health and life. Some workers said they were unaware of the ministry’s midday work ban and could not believe the ministry’s decision banning people from working under the sun.

However, some employees who knew about the ban wanted to work during midday to complete the project quickly.

Ibrahim Bashir, an electrician, said he was doing wiring for a new building. “I know about the midday work ban but I have to complete the work on time. If I fail to complete the work on time the building owner will punish me by cutting my wages,” he explained.

Taha Mohammed, a carpenter, was also working under the scorching sun. He has kept a bottle of cold water beside him to wash his face to reduce the intensity of heat. He told the Arabic daily’s reporter that he was unaware of the midday work ban.

“My employer has instructed me to work throughout the day to complete the remaining work. We take rest only at the time of prayer and lunch, which will be at 3 p.m.,” he said while urging the ministry to enforce its decision on the ground and punish violators.

On the east of the expressway the daily’s reporters found six Asian workers unloading ceramic material from a truck using support equipment. One of these workers said he knew about the midday work ban during summer while others replied in the negative.

“Our supervisor asked us to unload the tiles at this time,” one of them told the daily.

Saleh Bin Sarhan Al-Ghamdi, director of the office of the National Society for Human Rights in Jeddah, said employers do not have the right to force their employees to work during the banned midday hours and should abide by the ministry’s instructions.

A worker has to complete eight hours daily by working after 3 p.m, Al-Ghamdi said. “We’ll look into complaints of workers who are compelled by employers to work during the banned period. We’ll report to authorities after making sure that the complaint was true and genuine.

“We’ll communicate with the employer and if he refuses to cooperate then we’ll contact the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to take action,” he explained.

However, he pointed out that some people who work on their personal accounts work during midday. “In order to avoid such incidents we have to enlighten the public about the dangerous effect of working under the sweltering sun on their health,” he said.

An informed ministry source said it had received information about 16 violations of the midday work ban. A team of inspectors found these violations while on a tour of Jeddah districts, especially Bawadi, Nuzha, Salama, Naeem and Muhammadiya.

“The team noticed that more than 80 employees were doing different jobs during the period between 12 and 3 p.m. We have taken legal action against them,” the source said.


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