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23 Oct 2023

Gulf: Migrant workers at major US & UK brands reportedly subject to severe labour violations incl. recruitment fee-charging, poor housing & withheld passports; incl. cos. responses & non-responses

A joint investigation by Guardian US, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, NBC News, Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalist and other media partners into human trafficking and alleged labour exploitation in the Gulf has uncovered alleged labour abuse present in the supply chains of several US and UK brands, including Amazon, McDonald's, Chuck E Cheese and InterContinental Hotels Group. Journalists spoke to almost 100 current and former migrant workers who said they had been charged illegal or extortionate recruitment fees, were misled into taking poorly paid or jobs with subcontractors, had their passports confiscated, or were housed in inhumane, unsanitary and cramped accommodation.

Global corporate McDonald’s should absolutely be monitoring and verifying what is happening in its supply chain, whether it is in Saudi franchises or recruiters in the migrant origin countries where workers are hired.
Michael Page, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division, Human Rights Watch

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies to respond to the allegations and provide information on how company policies and standards on the treatment of workers are implemented and how working conditions are monitored in the relevant Gulf countries at both the national and franchisee level. We also invited the brands to detail any steps taken to remediate abuses, including what form of remediation is being or has been offered.

Responses from Amazon, McDonald's, InterContinental Hotels Group, and McDonald's licensee in Saudi Arabia Riyadh International Catering Company (RICC) can be read below. Chuck E Cheese and its parent CEC Entertainment did not respond. The Guardian also approached Rove International, a recruitment agency allegedly recruiting for workers at Amazon's Saudi warehouses; a company official provided a brief comment.

Amazon workers say they were exploited by labor supply and recruiting firms via NBC News

Company Responses

McDonald's View Response
Riyadh International Catering Corp. (RICC) View Response
Chuck E Cheese (part of CEC Entertainment)

No Response

IHG Hotels & Resorts View Response