Burj contractors defy daytime working ban

Contractors on the biggest building site in Dubai openly flouted ban on midday working

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By  Conrad Egbert and Colin Foreman Published  July 9, 2005

Contractors on the biggest building site in Dubai have openly flouted the new ban on midday working. Several major sites throughout the UAE ground to a halt at 12.30 pm on 1st July following the introduction of the daytime working ban. But work on Emaar’s Burj Dubai business park development project was continuing uninterrupted when Construction Week visited the site two days later at 2.15 pm on 3rd July. Scores of workers wearing Al Nekhreh Contracting (ANC) overalls could be seen milling around the site that is connected to the world’s tallest new tower. Other workers could also be observed on the main tower site, while more were erecting Emaar flags around the perimeter of the site which is located off the Sheikh Zayed Road. But many of the labourers had not been told about the introduction of the daytime work ban, which is now in effect between 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm. One week into the working restrictions, many contractors are unsure whether to abide by the new rules and risk financial losses on their contracts, or ignore the ban and risk being fined up to AED3000-a-man by the Ministry of Labour. The interpretation of the law has been complicated by the subsequent decision by the Ministry to allow outdoor working that is “in the shade”. In a statement, Emaar said: “Once Emaar’s construction sites are handed over to the appointed contractor, the sites come under the control and authority of the contractor. “All Emaar’s contractors are contractually bound to comply with the laws and regulations of the United Arab Emirates. “We understand that construction workers are permitted to work between the hours of 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm, provided that they are in the shade. “We will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities and our contractors as to the application of the laws and regulations.” While contractors have been in frantic talks with clients to re-arrange shift patterns and keep jobs on schedule, many site workers are still in the dark about the changes. None of the construction workers working around the Burj Dubai who spoke to CW had been told about the introduction of the new restrictions on daytime working. Labourer Wasim Azam said: “I’ve been working since the morning. It’s afternoon now, and no one has asked us to stop working yet. I haven’t heard of such a rule anyway and if any other workers would have heard of it, it would have surely spread around. So I’m sure no one else has heard of it either.” Co-worker Lal Zaada said: “ I don’t know of any such law. Our company has not informed us of any such rule. We’ve been working the regular hours. I’ve been working non-stop since morning.” An ANC spokesman said that he was unaware of the working practices on the site, but said that the company had issued instructions to stop working between 12.30 pm and 4.30 pm. He said: “From today onwards [Tuesday] they received the instruction from our top management, so they stopped working from today onwards. They announced this to the site also.”

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