By Andy Sambidge
Master developer responds to publication of first PwC monitoring report on Abu Dhabi island
Worker welfare practices on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi have improved and action has been taken to improve problem areas, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) said on Sunday.
The master developer said in a statement that it was committed to overcoming any challenges in order to "secure an internationally recognised standard of living for workers".
The comments came after the publication of the first independent monitoring report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on worker welfare practices on Saadiyat Island.
The report, which provides an appraisal of TDIC's contractors' and subcontractors' compliance with the company's employment policy, showed positive findings and recommendations for improvements, TDIC said in comments published by news agency WAM.
TDIC appointed PwC in June 2011 to provide independent monitoring of the welfare of workers on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi's multi-billion dollar tourism project.
Human rights groups had previously accused Abu Dhabi authorities of turning a blind eye to the conditions workers, who mainly come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.
PwC carried out 1,341 worker interviews, representing nine percent of the total monthly average of workers, a statement said.
Sultan Al Mahmoud, TDIC's executive director of strategic performance, said: "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."
In May, TDIC was awarded the Sustainability MEED Quality Award for Projects 2012 for its work on Saadiyat Construction Village which accommodates up to 20,000 workers.
Abu Dhabi is converting Saadiyat Island into an international tourist destination, at a cost of $27bn.
The island will have four museums and a performing arts centre designed by world-renowned architectural firms as well as a New York University campus, golf courses, hotels, and luxury residences.
Did you speak or interview some of the workers? Of course not, why would you?!