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UAE: 1,000 G4S workers allegedly dependent on food aid following COVID-19 suspensions & terminations; incl. co. comments

In June 2020, Migrant-Rights.org reported that at least 1,000 employees of UK-based security company G4S are reliant on community donations for food and other amenities after their contracts with the company were suspended or terminated in March. As per UAE law, the workers have remained in company accommodation, but have not received salary since March. Some workers have exhausted their end-of-service benefits on food.

The company is now funding the repatriation of workers whose visas have been cancelled, but some who remain report being transferred to accommodations where they are not permitted to use cooking facilities and air-conditioning does not work, although the company has said it will address it.

Migrant-rights.org also highlighted that while the UAE response to the COVID-19 pandemic permits companies to renegotiate workers' contracts, it is unclear if G4S workers' suspensions are in line with the new regulations, as this requires workers' advance and written consent.

A spokesperson for G4S told Migrant-rights.org, “We have been proactively providing free accommodation, soap and hand sanitiser, and more than 40,000 meals in the past two months. We are also in the process of repatriating more than 900 people, regardless of cost. More than 450 people have returned to their country of origin so far, and a further 460 will return home in coming weeks... G4S has agreed with some employees to grant paid leave and/or unpaid leave to employees where there is no work for them to undertake."

G4S provided a statement including background information to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre which can be read in full below.

The case follows previous allegations of labour abuse by G4S against employees in the UAE, which resulted in the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global divesting from the company over the "unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to systematic human rights violation" in Qatar and the UAE in 2019.