Muscat – With summer knocking on the door, the midday sun in the last few days has been unbearably hot. There is little relief for outdoor workers as the midday break hasn’t officially started. Blue-collar workers, especially in the construction sector, say the mid-day break should start at least a month earlier.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information, Oman’s construction sector employs the largest number – 25 per cent – of expatriate workers. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, there were 373,184 workers.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) carried out a campaign to raise awareness on the policy of stopping work at construction sites and open areas during the midday break in summer months.
A statement issued by MoL said, ‘The Directorate General of Labour in Muscat implemented an awareness campaign among business owners in the governorate on the policy of stopping work from 12.30pm until 3.30pm at construction sites in the months of June, July and August.”
The three-month midday break for outdoor workers begins on June 1. Companies that do not comply face heavy fines.
Muscat Daily spoke with outdoor workers about the midday break starting a month earlier.
Firoz Khan, a construction worker currently engaged at a site in Mumtaz Area, said, “I have been in Oman for the last eight years and this year, I find the heat unbearable. Though it started a bit late – and we were lucky to have better and cool weather during Ramadan – the heat picked up suddenly in the last few days this week. However, rather than an extra month by starting early, the midday break should be extended by one more hour.”
Khan explained that most construction workers live far from their worksite. “Going and coming back will take up all the time. Also, it would be nice if there were more water taps in the city. The water we carry along becomes warm and it’s expensive to buy water all the time from supermarkets.”
Another worker Rahul Kumar said, “I wish the midday break started earlier in May and is extended till the end of September.”
While thanking MoL for the midday break, Aslam Majid, who works at a construction site in Darsait, also said, “It should be extended by one more month because the last few weeks of summer are fierce. Also, can the government consider small rooms for us who cannot go home for the break? We just need a sitting room with AC and some water, like the taxi drivers’ resting places.”