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UAE: Article reports case of forced labour on Yas Island project

Migrant_Worker_UAE_photocredit_TheIndependentA migrant worker on a bunkbed in an eight-man dorm in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi (Photo credit: The Independent)

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Company non-response
1 August 2016

Aldar Properties did not respond

Aldar declined to comment.

Company response
1 August 2016

EllisDon's response

EllisDon is a Project Management Consultant for the project in question and is engaged to provide project management consulting services for the design and construction of a number of projects across the Middle East. EllisDon does not directly or indirectly hire the construction workforce for the project, arrange living conditions or conduct wage negotiations. This is the obligation of the General Contractor. At EllisDon, we value a working environment that is safe and secure and abides by applicable labour laws. Our goal is to ensure that all projects in which we are involved, anywhere in the world, are safe for all workers. We are committed to achieving this result.

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Article
11 July 2016

UAE migrant workers 'trapped' in construction jobs on man-made Yas island

Author: Hazel Sheffield, The Independent (UK)

John was hired in his home country in Africa, by a representative from a construction firm. The firm that hired him had been contracted by Canadian company Ellisdon on behalf of Aldar Properties, a real estate development company with headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The representative promised him a skilled job as a mould maker in Abu Dhabi for a salary of £770 a month, plus good accommodation, medical insurance and a food allowance.

...the reality was very different..dorm crammed with bunk-beds and lined by power outlets...wait his turn to use the toilet, which is shared with the eight other men in the room. When there is time to cook, they use a dingy, slim kitchen with an overflowing rubbish bin and basic gas stoves to heat food...Once they are at the site of the Ansam project, the workers put in 11 hour shifts with an hour off for lunch in backbreaking conditions, with no medical insurance should something go wrong...instead of the £770 a month he was promised, John is paid a basic salary of £129 plus a housing and transport allowance of £83, for a total of £212 a month. 

A clause in John's contract means that workers have to pay their sponsor back if they want to get of their jobs before a six month “probation” is complete. He said he had made inquiries at the labour ministry about cancelling his contract and was told that he could only do so if his employer agreed...If he cancelled the contract without consent, he would be sent home. This would be a disaster for John, who said that he cannot afford to return home. His only option is to try and get released from his contract so he can find work elsewhere in the kingdom. 

Wissam Ayoub, vice president of the Middle East region at EllisDon, said that it would review conditions for workers on the site. “We believe in the fair treatment of all people involved in the projects we engage in,”...He said EllisDon would review the conditions of workers on the Ansam site “and take action as required to ensure that they are following the UAE's labour laws.”

“Going home now for me is not an option because there will be no job for me and I spent all my savings to get here,” John said.

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