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International media coverage of our outreach to construction firms on migrant worker rights

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Article
6 December 2016

Construction industry failing to tackle abuse of migrant workers in the Gulf, claims report

Author: Gordon Miller, Building4Change

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) invited 100 construction companies operating in Qatar and the UAE for a response on the measures they are taking to stop exploitation of migrant workers. Only 22 responded...The analysed company responses are publicly available an online database searchable in English and Arabic.

Annabel Short, Deputy Director at BHRRC, said: “Global inequality is on display in the construction of multi-million dollar high-rises and stadiums by migrant workers who find themselves trapped in debt and sometimes unpaid for their labour. As the employer of 7% of the world’s workforce, it is time that the construction industry ups its game.”

Mariam Bhacker, Project Manager at BHRRC, said: “The regional variation in company responses demonstrates an urgent need to strengthen the competitive advantage for construction firms to uphold the rights of migrant workers. Mandatory transparency legislation in the UK introduced through the Modern Slavery Act and independent scrutiny from media and civil society have provided impetus for some companies to act, but more needs to be done. Governments, clients and investors must reward firms that take a responsible and transparent approach to their employment and recruitment practices.”

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Article
6 December 2016

Call to better protect Gulf migrant workers

Author: Adrian Bishop, OPP.Today (UK)

A call has gone out for construction companies operating in the Gulf region to “up their game” and protect migrant workers from abusive working arrangements...Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), author of the newly-published Wall of Silence, invited 100 construction companies operating in Qatar and the UAE to state the measures they are taking to stop exploitation of migrant workers.

Only 22 responded...Despite increasing public pressure for transparency and a requirement under the UK’s groundbreaking Modern Slavery Act for UK headquartered businesses to report on their global supply chain operations, many companies involved in the construction of the World Cup stadiums failed to respond to BHRRC’s outreach.

Chris McCann, Principal Consultant BSI Supply Chain Services, says, “The role business can play in driving out extreme forms of labour abuse, particularly in extended supply chains, is an invaluable one. ‘A Wall of Silence’ acknowledges the tremendous amount of best practice, and lessons, available to companies that willingly engage in the arena of business and human rights. BHRRC have issued a call to arms.”

Dr Shamir Ghumra; Director of Sustainable Products, BRE, says, “This report...highlights the very real situation facing migrant workers in the Qatar and the UAE. In an age of increasing transparency and accountability, organisations need to take heed of this report and act.”

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Article
6 December 2016

Safe workplaces not being ensured: Study

Author: Belal Hossain Biplob, The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

Construction companies operating in the Gulf region especially in the UAE and Qatar are failing to protect migrant workers from hazardous working environment, hinting at an alarming signal on the workers' safeguards in workplaces, said a survey report of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre...Only 22 companies responded, indicating a shocking level of inaction for the migrant workers' protection measures...Migrant rights activists in Bangladesh have been expressing their worries over serious violation of the workers' rights in the workplaces abroad especially in the Gulf countries those hire around 80 percent of workers from Dhaka...More than 10 lakh Bangladeshis are now working for the construction firms in Qatar and the UAE, according to statistics of Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET)...Only 13 responding construction firms have a public commitment to human rights. The lack of commitment of the huge number of companies is alarming given the wide-spread exploitation and abuse faced by the large numbers of migrant workers employed in the construction firms...

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Article
5 December 2016

Qatari And FIFA Pledges On Worker Rights Have Little Impact On Construction Companies – Analysis

Author: James M. Dorsey, Middle East Soccer

A recent survey of construction companies involved in World Cup-related infrastructure projects in Qatar raises questions about whether the Gulf state and world soccer body FIFA are doing all that could do to enforce international standards for the living and working conditions of migrant workers as well as adherence to human rights...a majority of 100 companies operating in Qatar as well as the United Arab Emirates, which prides itself on enacting the region’s most advanced labour-related legislation and regulation, felt no need in a recent survey to be transparent about their commitment to labour and human rights. The apparent lack of pressure on companies suggests that Qatar and FIFA have so far passed on opportunities to enforce adherence to standards.

Less than a quarter of the companies approached for the survey...deemed it appropriate to respond despite FIFA and Qatar’s public commitments to workers and human rights. Less than 40 percent of the companies approached publicly expressed a commitment to human rights and only 17 percent refer to international standards. Only three publicly acknowledge rights of migrant workers.

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Article
5 December 2016

Report lambasts construction's failure to tackle worker abuse in the Gulf

Author: The Construction Index (UK)

Construction companies have been too slow to react to the plight of vulnerable and desperate migrant workers in Qatar and the UAE, says a new report. Companies...are failing to protect workers from abusive working arrangements and there is lack of transparency on safeguards that they do have in place, says Business & Human Rights Resource Centre...The Centre, which is dedicated to advancing human rights in business and eradicating abuse, surveyed 100 construction companies operating in the UAE and Qatar but just 22 responded – a figure that it says indicates a shocking level of inaction. Eight UK-based companies with projects there were contacted for the survey and only four responded - Atkins, Carillion, Interserve and Laing O’Rourke. Of the 100 companies, just 39% have publically available human rights commitments, it found.

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Article
5 December 2016

South Korean Construction Industry Silent on Worker Abuse in Gulf States

Author: Daniel Corks, Korea Expose (South Korea)

Construction companies operating in the Gulf are failing to protect migrant workers from abusive working arrangements, showing a concerning lack of transparency on the safeguards they have in place, says Business & Human Rights Resource Centre...The Centre quizzed 100 construction companies operating in Qatar and the UAE on the measures they are taking to stop exploitation of migrant workers.  Only 22 responded, indicating a shocking level of inaction. The Centre today releases a report, “Wall of Silence” (attached) analysing the company responses, and a searchable online database in English and Arabic...All five companies headquartered in South Korea with projects in Qatar or the UAE [that we] contacted failed to respond: GS Engineering & Construction (E&C), Hyundai E&C, Lotte E&C, SK E&C, Ssanyong E&C, and Samsung Construction & Trade (C&T).

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