Prompting positive changes

Do a Google search for 'construction workers in Dubai' and the first website that comes up is one that contains a Human Rights Watch investigation into the conditions faced by labourers in the emirate.

COMMENT, Human Resource

Do a Google search for 'construction workers in Dubai' and the first website that comes up is one that contains a Human Rights Watch investigation into the conditions faced by labourers in the emirate.

This is followed by myriad other reports: almost every major newspaper, newswire and a countless number of news blogs have had a say on the subject.

Usually prompted by news of a strike, reporters inevitably descend on the labourers' accommodation in search of a story to tell. This has been happening for a number of years now, and the stories hardly differ from one to the next.

They usually start with a description of the less than favourable conditions in which the workers live, and are followed by an account of the paltry amount they're paid and the difficulties they have with sending money home.

More recently, the story has been compounded by a hike in living expenses, a devalued dirham against the dollar and opportunities luring workers back to their own countries.

It's easy for the rest of us to sit back, take pity and pass comment on the stories depicting the plight suffered by labourers in this region. Very often, these thoughts are only sweeping, and are left buried in the subconscience until the next story is written. So it's refreshing to hear about someone who has taken action after reading such media reports.

Lakshmi Montgomery has taken her well-being techniques into the labour camps, and in the process is making subtle changes to the daily lives of construction workers.

Under her Campfit scheme, workers are taught basic hygiene and dietary practices, along with exercise regimes and how to read and write simple English. They are also made to drink half-a-litre of water every hour, while meals have been supplemented with iron-rich vegetables.

While it is yet to be seen whether the programme will increase productivity and reduce illness and depression, such social interaction, care and attention will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the labourers' psyche.

The media goes a long way in prompting change, and Montgomery's story should be seen as a further inspiration to improving the lives of labourers.

Most popular

Awards

CW Oman Awards 2020: Meet the winners
A round of the thirteen winning names at the Construction Week Oman Awards 2020 that

Conferences

Leaders UAE 2020: Building a sustainable, 'resilient' infra
AESG’s Phillipa Grant, Burohappold’s Farah Naz, and Samana's Imran Farooq on a sustainable built environment
CW In Focus | Inside the Leaders in KSA Awards 2019 in Riyadh
Meet the winners in all 10 categories and learn more about Vision 2030 in this

Latest Issue

Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020