Every year, millions of migrant workers leave their homes to pursue jobs and economic opportunity in the booming global construction industry.
With limited employment alternatives in their home countries, migrant workers seek opportunities abroad that allow them and their families to move out of poverty. But these workers often operate in a gray zone between home and host country protections that leave them vulnerable to exploitation, especially in the recruitment process. Some recruitment agencies charge workers exorbitant fees – in some cases an amount equal to a year's salary – to place them in construction jobs abroad. After they migrate, workers can encounter poor working conditions, unpaid or underpaid wages, or the inability to leave the country or change jobs without their employer's permission.
In April 2018, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, and Humanity United launched the Gulf Construction Tracker. Based on over a year of data collection, the Tracker is the first central public online database of new construction projects awarded in the Arab Gulf region that are likely to involve low-wage migrant workers. It is a tool for civil society, business, and academics to conduct more targeted research and advocacy on migrant rights issues – including recruitment fees – in the region's construction sector.