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TDIC releases fourth annual independent monitoring report on employment practices policy by Pricewaterhousecoopers

ABU DHABI, 2nd February, 2016 (WAM) -- The Tourism Development and Investment Company, TDIC, has announced the publication of the fourth annual independent monitoring report on employment practices within TDIC projects on Saadiyat undertaken by the independent monitoring organisation PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC.

PwC’s report, including interviews with 880 randomly selected workers (16% of the monthly worker population on Saadiyat) examines contractor and subcontractor compliance with TDIC’s Employment Practices Policy (EPP). It reports where progress has been made and where improvements are needed.

TDIC recorded that PwC’s 2015 report indicates many areas in which the company has made considerable progress in strengthening foreign worker conditions and protections. TDIC recognises its continuing responsibility to ensure that all contractors and subcontractors abide by these standards.

Ali Majed Al Mansoori, TDIC’s Chairman of the Board, said, "We are particularly pleased with PwC’s observations that our ongoing efforts in response to the monitoring programme have produced notable improvements for the support and conditions for workers, who are vital to delivering our ambitious construction programme. These are issues of critical importance to TDIC, and we have worked hard over the years on enhanced enforcement actions for contractors and subcontractors. PwC’s findings demonstrate our continued commitment to worker welfare."

PwC drew on its 25 years’ experience in social compliance monitoring globally to conduct its monitoring independently of TDIC management, reporting to the audit committee of the board. Its findings – based on compliance with TDIC’s Employment Practices Policy (EPP) – recognised where progress has been made and noted areas where the company still needs to make improvements.

As part of its methodology, PwC interviewed 880 workers who originated from five countries: India (38%), Pakistan (30%), Bangladesh (29%), Nepal (3%) and Philippines (<0.5%). While none are employed by TDIC directly, all work for contractors and subcontractors who are building 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.

The report found that in 2015, of the 880 workers interviewed; 100% are in possession of medical insurance and have access to on-site medical care, 100% are in possession of their passports or had deposited them with employers willingly for safe-keeping, 100% of long-term workers employed on Saadiyat projects (defined as those employed for 30 days or longer) are residing in the Saadiyat Accommodation Village (SAV). Facilities within the SAV now include door-to-door laundry services, daily cleaning of rooms, and enhanced recreational and sporting facilities, 99% of workers had signed a Site Assignment Agreement (SAA) in their native languages providing full details of remuneration and working conditions; and 93% had signed an SAA prior to commencing work, a requirement of the EPP. Contractors are also providing periodic refreshers in the SAA, including through employees’ induction.

Additionally, 90% of workers had received health and safety training on Saadiyat before commencing work. TDIC is also doing further work to improve on health and safety awareness and action on site. A pilot satisfaction survey of workers residing at SAV found that 75% of workers were "Extremely Satisfied" or "Satisfied" with the quality of accommodation and facilities at the SAV complex.

The Monitoring Programme, now in its fourth year, notes that "deeper specific insights and information on EPP operations and enforcement issues, has increased the number of positive interventions made by TDIC." This includes 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. However, PwC also noted that TDIC should consider the recruitment of additional resources to assist in the day-to-day application and monitoring of the EPP. This is now under consideration by TDIC.

TDIC believes strongly that workers’ welfare is a critical priority for the company. Therefore, the standards employed, which are based on international best practices, go beyond legal requirements and mark TDIC out as a leader in this field. The company recognises its continuing responsibility to ensure that all contractors and subcontractors abide by these standards.

PwC also observed that while it found instances of workers paying recruitment fees in their home countries, TDIC took firm measures against violators, including the imposition of financial penalties and the obligation of those contractors to reimburse the affected workers. As part of the monitoring programme, 21 contracts between contractors and subcontractors, and their respective recruitment agents, were examined to spot any breaches. Nevertheless, the report noted once again that the full resolution of the recruitment and relocation cost issue is beyond TDIC’s direct influence and requires collaboration between relevant entities.

TDIC will use the results of the monitoring to further strengthen its own monitoring and enforcement systems overseeing the contractors it employs on its projects as well as to boost its stakeholder and partner outreach. This is in addition to the strengthened EPP that was introduced in August 2015. The developer will also work with its partners to address those issues that it TDIC cannot resolve directly, such as recruitment fees.

The results of the report will be used by TDIC to address any areas of concern and upgrade existing measures and procedures to guarantee the welfare of workers. This is a regular review process aimed at maintaining the highest standards for workers on TDIC’s Saadiyat projects.

The full report is available on TDIC’s website.