Nardello & Co. has been appointed to investigate allegations of labor standards violations in the construction of NYU Abu Dhabi’s new campus on Saadiyat Island. The appointment was announced on June 25 in a Tamkeen press release
, followed by an NYUAD-wide email and an NYU-wide email from NYUAD Vice Chancellor Al Bloom and NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano regarding the appointment.
Daniel Nardello, CEO and founder of Nardello & Co., will lead the investigation and results are expected by the end of the year. Nardello & Co. is an international investigation firm with offices in New York, London, Washington, D.C., Milan, Hong Kong and Dubai. The firm has conducted investigations
into cases of multinational embezzlement and organized crime in Venezuela and also has previous experience
with allegations of labor violations in the Gulf. Nardello is an NYU Law School graduate and has served as an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York.
This appointment is a response to the increasingly widespread criticism of labor conditions
in Abu Dhabi. In May, The New York Times reported
cases of poor labor conditions in the construction of the Saadiyat campus including squalid housing and withheld pay, in violation of NYU’s Statement of Labor Values
. The findings provoked further criticism, from both within and beyond the NYU community, of the university’s management and the construction of the Saadiyat campus. Although other construction projects funded by international corporations have encountered similar, and often worse, labor conditions, NYU has attempted to hold itself to a high standard by establishing a Statement of Labor Values. The Statement’s reimbursement for labor, for example, places laborers in the top range of the pay scale for their work.
NYU does not directly monitor the construction workers for Saadiyat campus. Instead, laborers are hired and managed by contractors. Engineering firm Mott MacDonald was previously hired to review labor conditions and ensure full adherence to NYU's Statement of Labor Values. In its 2013 report
Mott Macdonald found that NYUAD and Tamkeen had been largely successful at implementing the guidelines and standards they had set. Mott MacDonald’s report was based on interviews with 5.1% of the total workforce for the construction of the Saadiyat campus.
Bloom and Piano wrote that the appointment represents “a powerful step in continuing to exercise our responsibilities for the humane treatment of those who built our campus.”
Related Reading: Reports on Saadiyat Labor Violations
Joey Bui is an editor at large. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.