Exploratory study of good policies in the protection of construction workers in the Middle East

Construction is one of the key sectors of the labour market in many parts of the Middle East, particularly the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, where the building of world-class sporting stadiums, educational institutions, museums and condominiums continues at a rapid pace.

The workers that toil on building these impressive cities are commonly low-skilled migrant workers from Asia and Africa who benefit from opportunities to earn income that offers the chance of improved livelihoods for themselves and their families. However, they also potentially face risks relating to flawed recruitment, late payment of wages, dangerous working and conditions and may have limited access to effective dispute resolution. Both in the Middle East and other parts of the world, such factors can leave low-skilled construction workers vulnerable to labour exploitation (including forced labour) and impede the efficiency (as well as good reputation) of the construction industry.

This paper outlines the changing trends in the construction industry which have led to extensive subcontracting and to the outsourcing of labour requirements to labour supply companies.

The paper presents an exploratory study of relevant good policies and practices in the protection of construction workers, including from the region as well as Europe and Asia, as well as the United States, focusing closely on mechanisms ensuring (i) timely payment of wages and (ii) safe and healthy working conditions.