Investors are concerned about the situation of migrant workers

Investors are taking an even closer look on what impact their investments have. Now a group of investors, who together invest more than 3 trillion Pound, is concerned about reports of serious labor law violations against migrant workers in the Gulf region. They have written to companies, including major hotel chains such as Accor, Hyatt and Wyndham Hotels, requesting for comments.

Migrant workers often with an Asian background make up a large part of the population in the United Arab Emirates and constitute an important part of the economy. They work in construction, but also in hospitality or in the oil and gas industry. Abuses have already been reported before, such as no or late payment, forced labor and bad working and living conditions. It is long known, that many of the workers have to incur high debts before being hired, to pay a commission for middleman or employment agencies. In some cases, they have to hand in their passports and enter into debt bondage. Covid-19 has made the situation even worse, because many workers for example from Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bangladesh, who lost their jobs, cannot return to their home countries and receive no protection locally, due to their precarious situation.

Some of the addressed companies have already reacted by stating that they do not tolerate any form of modern slavery – whether they really change their recruiting systems and improve the payment and housing of their workers, will ultimately depend on whether the investors keep up the pressure.