Abu Dhabi, 12/23/2014 12:00:00 AM -
Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the developer of some of the major projects on Saadiyat including three iconic museums in the Cultural District, announces the release of the third annual PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) independent compliance monitoring report. It was compiled based on year-long observations of TDIC and its Contractors and Subcontractors’ compliances with both TDIC’s Employment Practices Policy (EPP) and UAE Labour Law.
As a result of TDIC’s ongoing efforts, PwC, one of the leading global audit firm, noted that in 2014, it was “able to identify more detailed and specific insight and information on EPP implementation and enforcement issues,” and “this is an outcome of the cumulative knowledge built up from our previous monitoring work, the increased focus on EPP implementation and enforcement by TDIC and the subsequent improved quality and availability of documentary evidence within TDIC and its Contractors and Subcontractors relating to the areas covered by the EPP.”
His Excellency Ali Majed Al Mansoori, TDIC’s Chairman, said: “We are particularly pleased with PwC’s observations that TDIC has enhanced levels of governance over EPP activities and focused on achieving increased levels of worker welfare standards. We have worked hard over the past years on the enhanced enforcement actions for Contractors and Subcontractors and the findings demonstrate our continued commitment to worker welfare.”
In 2014, PwC interviewed 1,050 workers, representing 14.4 per cent of the average monthly worker population on Saadiyat. While none of these workers are employed by TDIC, they work for contractors developing TDIC projects. Contractors were notified by PwC on the same day that interviews would be occurring with workers, ensuring results could not be influenced by the Contractors. PwC has 21 years of experience in social compliance monitoring globally, and operated independently of TDIC management, reporting ultimately to the audit committee of the board.
The report attested to some of the considerable progress TDIC has made in ensuring that workers are treated with respect and dignity. On the most important issue, the safety and comfort of workers, TDIC is pleased that 100% of workers interviewed have health insurance cover, and that the rate of “near misses” – a recognized industry safety standard is very low when compared to global industry standards. To ensure worker comfort, TDIC provides door-to-door laundry services, daily cleaning of rooms, and enhanced recreational facilities in the Saadiyat Accommodation Village. TDIC has also made progress in securing the rights of workers, and the report notes that all workers have free access to their passports.
“We have observed that TDIC has continued its commitment to enhancing standards of worker welfare by instigating a number of changes,” the report said.
The report also featured ongoing concerns, such as workers paying recruitment fees in their home countries. However, it noted that PwC was able to examine a number of contracts between Contractors and Subcontractors, and their respective recruitment agents. That allowed PwC to note any breaches, such as documented proof of workers paying recruitment fees. The report acknowledged that when such breaches occurred, TDIC took firm measures that included financial penalties, and other enforcement notices to rectify non-compliances. Even as PwC highlighted TDIC’s efforts to address this global issue, the report observed “as noted in our previous reports, the full resolution of the recruitment and relocation cost issue is beyond TDIC’s direct influence and also requires action outside of the UAE.”
PwC noted that a number of other organisations have approached TDIC to learn from the company’s experience in relation to their workers welfare program.
The observations made in the PwC report are currently being studied in detail by TDIC to fine-tune and upgrade existing measures and procedures to improve the overall standard of the welfare of workers on TDIC projects. This is a regular review process aimed at maintaining the highest standards for workers at TDIC’s world-class Saadiyat Accommodation Village.
TDIC will use the recommendations in the report to continue to strengthen its own monitoring and enforcement capabilities regarding the Contractors and Subcontractors it employs for its projects on Saadiyat Island. TDIC’s immediate upcoming focus will be introducing its new EPP implementation and enforcement model, expected in early 2015. TDIC will also use the recommendations in the report to engage and work with business partners and other stakeholders to address workers welfare issues including those that TDIC cannot resolve directly, such as recruitment fees.