Statement on Workers' Rights at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum Site

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Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, east elevation

(NEW YORK, NY – March 17, 2011) – The Guggenheim Foundation is firmly committed to working to protect the rights of individuals on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum site. Several very important steps have been taken over the past six months that demonstrate this commitment.

In September of 2010, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) issued a joint public statement committing to provide key core rights and benefits to all workers involved in the construction of the museum. One of these benefits is the right of the workers to live in the construction village that TDIC has built on Saadiyat Island, which has set a high standard for workers' accommodations in the region. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation Director, Richard Armstrong, visited the village this fall. Read the joint public statement.

In a demonstration of its ongoing dedication to ensuring the rights of workers, TDIC has recently taken two significant steps. The first is the decision to put in place what they have promised will be a robust independent monitoring program and to have the monitor issue annual public reports. The second is to contractually require all contractors to reimburse workers for any recruitment fees they have paid to agencies to obtain their jobs. This is an important safeguard intended to enable workers to keep all of the wages they earn.

While we share the artists’ concern for the workers, we believe that, in light of the steady progress that has been made with respect to recruitment fees, the prompt payment of wages, the ability to retain passports, the provision of health insurance, good living accommodations, and the imminent appointment of an independent monitor in May, their statement is misinformed. We believe that the Guggenheim Foundation’s work with TDIC has been instrumental in bringing about this progress. We will continue to remain focused on this critical priority.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, east elevation, digital rendering, courtesy TDIC and Gehry Partners, LLP