24 December 2013
Calls for shared responsibility of western institutions after the Observer reveals that construction workers in Abu Dhabi face destitution, internment and deportation
The International Trade Union Confederation, politicians and NGOs have urged western institutions involved in major projects in Abu Dhabi, including the British Museum and New York University (NYU), to take active steps to address the workers’ welfare and press the United Arab Emirates government to improve their conditions.
An Observer investigation found that with respect to thousands workers in building projects, including a new Louvre, the world’s largest Guggenheim and a NYU Campus, minimum labour standards are not respected, there are systematic complaints about poor accommodation and sanitation, salaries and medical services are withheld, and that both experts and the migrants themselves report excessive police force and situations of forced labour.
Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, warned the international institutions involved in the projects that they shared responsibility for the workers’ welfare and said that ‘International institutions need to be aware that if they associate their name with developments they must insist on full respect for ILO standards.’
Gulf Labor, a coalition of international artists which is mounting a year-long protest against the mistreatment and exploitation of migrant workers on Saadiyat, said the findings should shame the western institutions involved.