TDIC describes HRW report as inaccurate
ABU DHABI - Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has slammed the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on Saadiyat Island’s labour conditions as “outdated and inaccurate”.
The report, released on March 2012, stated that Emirati developers (TDIC) and their international partners have improved working conditions on Saadiyat Island, but they will need to do more.
“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,” replied the organisation in a statement.
“The company is pleased to see the HRW has acknowledged the high standards that TDIC continues to uphold in the area of worker welfare in its latest report on Saadiyat Island. However, TDIC believes that some of the findings detailed are outdated and inaccurate, as the report cites interviews conducted between October 2010 and January 2011.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 the HRW has used in the report is flawed; we call 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,” it said.
The HRW has been criticising TDIC on labour practices and conditions on Saadiyat Island, where the Louvre, Guggenheim and other major museums and art centres are being developed, since 2009. Over the past few years, TDIC has drastically improved the living and working conditions for the 20,000 workers in its dedicated labour village on the island, and even hired independent monitors to publicly and regularly report on any violations of workers’ rights.
“The company shares the HRW’s concern on the subject of labour recruitment fees, which, unfortunately, continue 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, 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, the HRW is shifting the spotlight away from this important issue rather than trying to address it at its core. TDIC, therefore, encourages the HRW to take the lead role in campaigning against this damaging practice on a wider scale and will fully support it in doing so,” replied TDIC.
In May 2011, TDIC appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers 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.
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