Abu Dhabi: The first independent monitoring report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) detailing Tourism Development ‘&’ Investment Company’s (TDIC) worker welfare practices on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi was released today.
The report, which provides an independent appraisal of TDIC’s contractors’ and subcontractors’ compliance with the company’s Employment Practices Policy (EPP), highlights positive findings and recommendations for improvements.
In order to extend its commitment to workers, TDIC, the master developer of major tourism, cultural and residential destinations in Abu Dhabi, created in 2009 its Employment Practices Policy, which is primarily based on and complements the UAE Labour Law. The EPP sets out the standards relating to workers’ welfare that TDIC requires of its contractors for projects on Saadiyat Island.
TDIC appointed PwC in June 2011 to provide independent monitoring of TDIC and its’ contractors’ compliance with the EPP. PwC carried out initial and follow-up monitoring visits to the main contractors and a sample of eight subcontractors working on four of the major projects under construction on Saadiyat Island. Between June 2011 and May 2012, a number of 1,341 workers were interviewed, representing 9 percent of the total monthly average of workers on Saadiyat Island during the monitoring period.
Commenting on PwC’s report, Sultan Al Mahmoud, TDIC’s Executive Director of Strategic Performance and Chairman of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, stated: “We are pleased to receive the compliance monitoring report of TDIC’s Employment Practices Policy and the details of its observations concerning the welfare of workers on Saadiyat Island. The results demonstrate that improvements on various levels related to working and living conditions have been achieved and sustained.
“We recognise that transparency on these findings is important, and we have already taken action to improve the areas highlighted over the course of the monitoring programme. We realise that there are certain points that need further attention, and as always, TDIC will continue its commitment to working with all relevant parties – its contractors and partners – in overcoming any challenges in order to secure an internationally recognised standard of living for workers,” explained Al Mahmoud.
The PwC report affirms in its monitoring results the level of cooperation received from TDIC. “Throughout our engagement as independent monitors, we found that TDIC and most of the contractors and subcontractors were supportive and facilitated the delivery of the monitoring programme. TDIC worked with us to help resolve any issues we did encounter,” the report stated.
The EPP stipulates certain requirements which are based on the UAE Labour Law and, in certain areas, adopted international labour practices. These requirements, which TDIC has addressed and continuously worked on improving for the betterment of workers, include: contractors’ recruitment process, contractors’ employment process, possession of passports, payment of wages, accommodation and facilities, expressing grievances, EPP administration, and health and safety.
Al Mahmoud highlighted some of TDIC’s initiatives in regards to workers’ benefits. “From the very beginning, our aim has been to ensure that workers on the island were provided with the best care and comfortable facilities. In particular, the Saadiyat Construction Village, purposely built by TDIC in 2009 for its construction workers, has been recognised as a positive example of how comprehensive support for workers’ needs can be provided in the region,” he stated.
In May 2012, TDIC was awarded the Sustainability MEED Quality Award for Projects 2012 for its work on Saadiyat Construction Village – a high-quality, modern construction community project built to international standards to accommodate a capacity of up to 20,000 workers who are dedicated to developing the world-class projects on Saadiyat Island.
With its broad range of social, recreational and educational facilities – such as multilingual libraries, computer and Internet access, gymnasiums, and floodlit sporting area with four cricket pitches, basketball court and tennis court – the village has become an exemplifying model in the region. This accommodation facility is intelligently designed to ease the lives of the workers by providing them with barbershops, banking facilities, prayer rooms, spacious dining halls, food outlets and shops with highly affordable goods.