Classes to improve workers 'lifestyles

Contractors are signing up to a new scheme aimed at improving the lives of construction workers in Dubai.

Lakshmi Montgomery wants to make a difference to the lifestyle in the labour camps.
Lakshmi Montgomery wants to make a difference to the lifestyle in the labour camps.

Contractors are signing up to a new scheme aimed at improving the lives of construction workers in Dubai.

TR Tech, GMT Consortium, MAK Kharifi & Sons and Wilbur Smith & Associates are among those which have shown interest in the 'Campfit' scheme launched by Lakshmi Montgomery, a trained dietician and therapist, two months ago.

Montgomery has been providing lessons in English and personal hygiene and dietary advice to workers on the International City project living in the Sonapur labour camp. She said the initiative may be the answer to the strife that has been affecting the emirate's construction workforce.

Montgomery was already running programmes in Dubai for children with behavioural and health problems, and decided she wanted to help workers in the construction field.

"Everything in this town is about construction, but the most important resource it needs is workers," she said.

"Contractors know that if the number of sick-leavers is reduced, then their expenses will be cut. There will also be less turnover of staff and the whole employment system will be more sustainable."

Montgomery runs a series of hour-long evening sessions at the camps, where she teaches English and healthcare, and provides dietary tips.

Despite the programme only having recently got off the ground, she has already seen the benefits among the workers.

"There has been a real improvement in morale in the time I have been here," she said. "Every time I come I see the class numbers swelling. I thought I would do just once a week, but then they said you have to come more.

"They even want me to come on Friday. I said: 'No, it's your day off', but they insist I come."

Saeed Hashemi Nejad, vice project manager, GMT Consortium, is one of the contractors who makes use of the Campfit scheme.

"I have noticed a lot of improvement in our workforce since we began the programme," he said.

"The people are happier, and so eventually we would like to get Lakshmi more involved."

He added: "In our way, we are pioneers in Dubai, because there is a lot of talk about health and safety at work, but the health of the individuals is not talked about.

"I have worked for a couple of big companies before but this is the first time I have heard of this kind of scheme being implemented at all."

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