TDIC: HRW Saadiyat Island findings inaccurate
ABU DHABI - Tourism Development '&' Investment Company (TDIC), the master developer of cultural, residential and tourism destinations in Abu Dhabi, continues to be deeply committed to safeguarding worker welfare on its projects; as an integral part of this commitment, TDIC fully supports and respects the important role human rights organisations play, and cooperates to address issues of concern as they become evident.
The company is pleased to see Human Rights Watch (HRW) has acknowledged the high standards that TDIC continues to uphold in the area of worker welfare in its latest report on Saadiyat island (released on 21st March 2012). However, TDIC believes that some of the findings detailed are outdated and inaccurate, as the report cites interviews conducted between October 2010 and January 2011. Moreover, the company believes the methodology HRW has used in the report is flawed.
TDIC calls into question the small sample of workers interviewed, as well as the limited number of contractors these workers represent. TDIC therefore firmly believes that this report is not an accurate reflection of the current situation on Saadiyat.
The rights group said it "found lapses in effectively punishing abusive contractors and following through on promises to make monitoring reports public."
And many workers still have to pay recruitment fees to obtain jobs and contractors regularly confiscate passports.
The company shares HRW's concern on the subject of labour recruitment fees which, unfortunately, continues to be a challenge. This practice mainly occurs in the worker's country of origin, making it an extremely difficult problem to address from the UAE. However, as according to TDIC's Employment Practices Policy (EPP), should any worker prove they have been charged fees by an agency to work on any of its projects, the company will take appropriate action under its agreement with the relevant contractor to reimburse the worker. By focusing solely on Saadiyat, HRW is shifting the spotlight away from this important issue rather than trying to address it at its core. TDIC therefore encourages HRW to take the lead role in campaigning against this damaging practice on a wider scale and will fully support it in doing so.
TDIC says it is extremely pleased with the community spirit that continues to flourish at the Saadiyat Construction Village - a model of best practice that has been built to house up to 20,000 workers employed by contractors during the construction of Saadiyat island. A significant number of visiting ministers, resident foreign ambassadors and journalists have toured the village and voiced their admiration for its unique facilities.
In May 2011 TDIC appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as an independent auditor to monitor its contractors' and subcontractors' performance in the area of worker welfare on Saadiyat. The first report will be shared with the public later this year; in addition to the findings, the document will also detail the stringent methodology that has been implemented by the auditor.
TDIC stresses it is proud of its achievements in the area of worker welfare and is fully committed to review its policies regularly, and amend them when warranted, in order to continue setting the highest standards in its Employment Practices Policy (EPP).