NYUAD hires new investigators to revisit labor conditions

By John Ambrosio, News Editor

Courtesy of NYUAD

NYU Abu Dhabi’s regional partner Tamkeen will hire the corporate investigating firm Nardello & Co to look into labor conditions at the Saadiyat Island campus.

The news came a little more than a month after The New York Times ran a story that alleged that the subcontractors used by NYUAD and Tamkeen had violated NYU’s labor code.

“As we said in May, we want to determine what happened and take appropriate action,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman. “Nardello & Co.’s role will be to determine what happened.”

Beckman added that Mott McDonald, the firm that has been monitoring the labor practices of NYU’s subcontractors, would continue to act as monitor, and the actions they take will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

For now, past critics of NYUAD’s labor policy are hopeful, but reserving judgement until the end of the investigation, which is scheduled to be completed six months from now.

Social and cultural analysis professor and member of the Coalition for Fair Labor at NYU Andrew Ross said the news could represent progress and even a positive outcome for workers in Abu Dhabi, but it all depends on the outcome of the investigation.

“I think it’s a necessary step,” Ross said. “I hope that this firm does a better job [than Mott McDonald]. They really have to contact all the independent investigators that have found violations over the years.”

However, Ross also voiced his concerns over a possible conflict of interest with the new investigator.

“In looking at the profile of this company, I think we were a little shocked to discover that this fellow [Daniel Nardello] has an NYU Law school degree,” Ross said. “You would think that someone would think twice about giving the OK on this because this person has to have the appearance of being truly independent and someone looks at this NYU Law school degree and says, ‘Well what is NYU thinking?’”

Beckman responded to this criticism, saying that Nardello’s law degree had nothing to do with his credibility or experience as an investigator, and added that his firm was not chosen by the university.

“While NYU is completely satisfied with the selection of Nardello & Co. to lead the investigation, the firm was chosen by Tamkeen,” Beckman said.

John Ambrosio is a news editor. Email him at [email protected].