Men fill up the dining hall at the Saadiyat Accommodation Village on the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
Men fill up the dining hall at the Saadiyat Accommodation Village on the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

TDIC improving worker welfare on Saadiyat Island, report finds

ABU DHABI // Facilities for workers on Saadiyat Island have improved since last year, a new report has concluded.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual study of labourers living in the Saadiyat Accommodation Village (SAV) has showed that the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has made efforts to ensure that workers are treated with respect and dignity.

PwC, a global audit company, interviewed 1,050 workers in the village, representing 14.4 per cent of the worker population on Saadiyat Island, for its employment practices policy (EPP) compliance monitoring report.

Regarding the safety and comfort of the workers, the report said that 100 per cent of them had health insurance.

Also, the rate of “near-miss accidents” in the workplace – which is a recognised industry safety standard – is very low when compared to global standards.

“To ensure worker comfort, TDIC provides door-to-door laundry services, daily cleaning of rooms, and enhanced recreational facilities in the world-class SAV,” the study said.

In 2014, 93 per cent of workers interviewed said that they had received health and safety induction before commencing work.

The report noted that all workers also have free access to their passports.

“We have observed that TDIC has continued its commitment to enhancing standards of worker welfare by instigating a number of changes,” the report said.

The report also highlighted continuing concerns, such as workers paying recruitment fees in their home countries.

Of the 1,050 interviewed, 88 per cent stated that they had paid recruitment fees and 89 per cent had paid relocation costs.

However, the report noted that PwC representatives were able to examine the contracts between contractors and subcontractors, and their respective recruitment agents.

That allowed PwC to note any breaches, such as documented proof of workers paying recruitment fees.

The report acknowledged that when such breaches occurred, TDIC took firm measures that included financial penalties, as well as obliging contractors involved to reimburse the workers affected.

Even as PwC highlighted TDIC’s efforts to address this issue, the report said “as noted in our previous reports, the full resolution of the recruitment and relocation cost issue is beyond TDIC’s direct influence and also requires action outside of the UAE”.

Ali Majed Al Mansoori, chairman of TDIC, welcomed the findings.

“We are particularly pleased with PwC’s observations that TDIC has enhanced levels of governance over EPP activities and focused on achieving increased levels of worker welfare standards. We have worked hard over the past years on the enhanced enforcement actions for contractors and subcontractors and the findings demonstrate our continued commitment to worker welfare.”

The Saadiyat Accommodation Village has a capacity of 20,000 workers but in November it was only about 38 per cent full, with 7,513 workers living there.

The workers interviewed for the PwC report were from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

There are seven TDIC projects across Saadiyat Island, including the construction of a museum, school, residential villas, two infrastructure projects, civil defence station and a 1.5 kilometre tunnel.

These projects are executed by seven main contractors and 46 subcontractors.

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