abu Dhabi workersNew York University-the name is laced in prestige, and usually mentioned alongside the nation’s top performing schools.

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It’s no surprise that with all this prestige, the university is in the midst of expanding its reknowned education across the globe- at the expense it seems, of it’s foreign builders.

The university faced criticism when it announced it was building it’s new site in Abu Dhabi in 2009; the captial of a country that severely lacks labor laws and where public dissent is intolerable. However, in 2009, N.Y.U. issued a “statement of labor values” acknowleging that while the United Arab Emirates and the university come from different legal and labor backgrounds, the workers who build, maintain, and operate the new site would be offered all the benefits of fair labor standards. Rights to proper compensation and hourly wages, voluntary overtime, and the right to redress labor disputes without “harrasment, intimidation, or retaliation”, were some of the standards the University promised it’s workers.


However, reporters from The New York Times discovered that Emirati workers face the cruelties of an injust labor environment, sometimes being forced to work 11 to 12 hours a week, failing to receive reimbursement for their work, and being jailed if they strike.

The New York Times reports

“Told of the laborers’ complaints, [NYU] officials said they could not vouch for the treatment of individual construction workers, since they are not employees of the university but rather of companies that work as contractors or subcontractors for the government agency overseeing the project. Those companies are contractually obligated to follow the statement of labor values.”

The university has stated hopes of the new campus being built and run as a “Cultural free zone”, however it seems that so far, they are failing to meet those goals. N.Y.U. has stated in an email that they are investigating these claims. Hopefully they can uphold their guarantee of fair treatment to their workers overseas.