TDIC appoints Saadiyat welfare auditor

PricewaterhouseCoopers to monitor welfare of 20,000 workers

Following the proposed artists’ boycott of the Guggenheim Museum on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island in March, TDIC has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as an independent auditor to monitor the welfare of construction workers.
The appointment by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) was announced at the end of last month. It will see PwC responsible for “stringently monitoring [the] compliance” of contractors’ and subcontractors’ treatment of workers on Saadiyat’s construction sites.

The international tax, advisory and assurance firm will monitor the implementation of the UAE’s labour law and TDIC’s Employment Practice Policy (EPP), which all third party companies employing workers on the island are required to comply with.

“TDIC is deeply committed to safeguarding the rights of workers on its projects,” said chairman of TDIC’s EPP Steering Committee, Sultan Mohamed Al Mahmood.

“We are happy with the results we have achieved to date through our EPP, and the appointment of PwC will help us to confirm that all our contractors and subcontractors are adhering to all their contractual obligations in relation to workers’ rights, and that they have the right support to help them meet these regulations,” he continued.

Al Mahmood is also the executive director of strategic performance for the committee.

In March, TDIC came under renewed pressure from Human Rights Watch, when more than 130 artists linked to the Guggenheim Museum signed a petition to call for better treatment of construction workers on the island.

Human Rights Watch has been calling for improvements in the living and working conditions of workers on Saadiyat’s numerous sites for more than two years. TDIC said measures were already in place to safeguard construction workers, and that a monitoring body would be appointed in May 2011.

In addition to the world-famous museum, other key developments on Saadiyat Island include the Louvre and Sheikh Zayed National Museum.

Annual reports will be produced by PwC on “key aspects” of workers’ welfare, including the rights of employers to hold personal documents; illegal recruitment fees; payment of wages; health and safety; and working conditions and accommodation.

In producing the reports, PwC will interview construction workers in their native languages and also meet with contractors and sub-contractors.

Spot checks will also be performed on construction sites and accommodation facilities at Saadiyat Construction Village; currently home to 10,000 workers, with that number set to double by the end of 2012 .

TDIC say the checks will be conducted without warning, with costs covered by contractors.

According to TDIC contractors are “fully aware” of the EPP and other appropriate legislation and that failure to comply will result in “strict” financial penalties or cancellation of contracts.

“We are proud to be able to offer the substantial global expertise of PwC’s auditing and social compliance professionals to support the development ambitions of TDIC,” added Ron McMillan, Middle East assurance leader for PwC.



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