By Fazeena Saleem
DOHA: Rising mercury levels has made it challenging for some blue collar workers to fast this Ramadan.
Construction workers, car washers and gardeners, among others, who expose more to the heat and humidity say they feel dehydrated and more tired than on usual working days due to the weather and fasting. Some said they cannot stand the heat and stress and opted not to fast.
A few employers allow workers to rest frequently or adjust work for those fasting besides the ban on work in open places between 11.30am and 3pm.
And majority of workers get their food from charities and avoid cooking or taking it from a ‘mess’ provided by employers.
“We work eight hours a day on a usual shift. It’s very difficult when the humidity level rises, especially these days during fasting,” said a car washer at the underground parking slot of a popular shopping mall.
“We take rest between work, but here only, we have no access to air condition, sometimes we walk out of the parking slot but it’s hot outside, too.”
Many employers give fasting Muslim workers the option of working in the morning and evening or night shifts.
But even in the morning, the humidity is making it difficult for blue collar workers to fast and work.
“We work only in the mornings, six hours. Our work is not hard labour but with the heat, it’s sometimes difficult for us to fast.
“By 9am, we feel tired. Every day we fast and come to work but on two days I couldn’t continue,” said a gardener in his morning shift in New Salata.
Most construction sites begin work between 4am and 6am and finish before 11.30am.
“We start work early in the morning, so workers can get back to their accommodation before the temperature is high. But if anyone feels sick or tired, we let them rest,” said a senior official of a construction company.
Some workers say in hot weather, fasting and travelling in non-AC buses from work sites to their accommodations around noon make them uneasy.
“We come to work by 4am and leave by 10am, but it is around 11.30am when we reach our accommodation.
“We feel suffocated as we get into the bus, most of the time we keep all windows open and try to keep eyes closed,” said a construction worker at a site in Old Airport area.
However, some employers have made changes to the nature of work for those fasting.
“They start work at 6am and finish by 11am, and we give only light work. They are given a 10-minute break every half an hour,” said an official at the safety office of a construction company.
Most blue collar workers who fast depend on charities for food, as it takes away the burden of cooking.
“Most days we feel tired to cook. We attend Iftar everyday at Ramadan tents. There the food is rich and good. My colleagues and I take rice and meat for Suhour. We warm the food and eat and soon after morning prayer leave for work. Many I know do the same,” said a construction worker.