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NYU set to compensate thousands of migrant workers on Abu Dhabi complex

New York University (NYU) has pledged to compensate thousands of migrant workers who built its new campus in Abu Dhabi after an investigation found that roughly a third were excluded from safeguards intended to stop them from being abused and exploited.

About 10,000 people were not covered by the university’s labour guidelines, which were meant to protect them from exploitative conditions including forced labour, poor wages, illegal recruitment fees and associated debts, squalid living conditions, and abuse and harassment, according to a report by the international investigations firm Nardello & Co.

The report found that the system monitoring compliance with the guidelines was flawed, with local contractors – including Mubadala, a real estate company owned by the Abu Dhabi government – exploiting a loophole to exempt some subcontractors from the labour guidelines, which increased their profits. It concluded that “this practice … created a significant gap in coverage that disenfranchised thousands of workers from the protections contemplated by the labo[u]r guidelines”.read more

Uncovering Abuses in Abu Dhabi
Daniel Nardello, the CEO of Nardello & Co., investigated labor practices for New York University at the school’s Abu Dhabi campus. The Nardello & Co. Report. He shares what he learned about how workers were treated.read more
Lapses in Labor Monitoring

An investigation into labor conditions for the workers who built New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi corroborated many of the allegations of abuses reported by media and human rights organizations.

The report by Nardello & Co. found that approximately a third of the estimated 30,000 workers who built the campus worked for subcontractors that were exempted from NYU’s labor guidelines — and the protections therein — because their contracts fell below certain monetary or time-related thresholds. NYU and other key parties did not appear to know about what the report describes as a “de facto exemption policy.”read more