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5 Apr 2015

The Guardian

Migrants building UAE cultural hub 'working in prison conditions'

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"Migrants building UAE cultural hub 'working in prison conditions'", 4 April 2015

Trade unions and artists have condemned the conditions faced by migrant workers building a £17bn cultural hub in the United Arab Emirates, including new branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums, as akin to an open prison. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Gulf Labor, a coalition of international artists, said the several thousand workers in the official labour camp on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi were subject to segregation, a 10pm curfew and monitoring by security guards, and could only enter or leave on authorised buses. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, said: “People are treated like battery hens. They’re locked in. There are guards. They leave at 5.30-6am, they go home at 6-7pm in the evening, or later if they are forced to work overtime, often unpaid.”... The most recent audit of Saadiyat Island by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was appointed by TDIC to monitor workers’ welfare, found that the company had not consistently enforced its employment practices policy, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of labourers. According to the audit, TDIC imposed financial penalties against only three of the six contractors who were found to be in breach of the policy last year. However, the audit noted that TDIC has pledged to introduce a fairer employment code this year and has already made some improvements to facilities at the SAV, including door-to-door laundry services and new kitchens.

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Saadiyat, United Arab Emirates: Human Rights Watch says workers better protected but gaps remain

ILO investigation into Saadiyat Island labour abuses, United Arab Emirates