Qatar proposes welfare reforms for migrant workers in a new report
Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee responded to international criticism with a 50-page report offering welfare reforms for migrant workers involved in 2022 World Cup projects.
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has warned that from India and Nepal alone, 400 migrant workers die every year in Qatar, which could increase up to 600. “More than 4000 workers risk losing their life over the next seven years as construction for World Cup facilities gets underway if no action is taken to give migrant workers’ rights,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of ITUC.
Responding to the calls of ITUC among other human rights organisations, Qatar had until February 12 to report its plans for worker reforms to the football governing body FIFA.
The organising committee for the 2022 World Cup recently released a 50-page report, which aims at ensuring the welfare of migrant workers involved in the projects related to 2022 World Cup.
Speaking with The Edge about this document, Nicholas McGeehan, the Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates researcher at Human Rights Watch, said, “The standards are detailed and thorough and the Supreme Committee deserves credit for its efforts to improve standards on the projects within its control.”
However, the welfare standards set in this document, according to The Guardian, are only restricted to migrants working on football stadiums under construction. The report, hence, does not cover wider infrastructure projects otherwise linked to the tournament.
“Where liability is found to rest with employers…authorities will pursue these cases through legal channels.” – Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Pointing out another issue with the report, McGeehan mentioned the problem of efficacy. “These standards provide theoretical protection to a small fraction of Qatar’s migrant workers since it has yet to be established that they will be effective in practice,” he said.
While the document focuses on areas such as wages and accommodation, it does not address the kafala scheme, which according to McGeehan is a key issue in Qatar. “They are not legally binding, they do not guarantee workers’ rights to change employer, or their right to leave the country or their right to bargain collectively for decent pay and conditions if things go wrong,” he said, adding that the government should apply these standards to the whole migrant worker population; back them up with sanctions, and unveil plans on how it intends to reform the kafala system.
After the accounts of Nepalese workers dying in Qatar, the international media recently reported more than 500 Indian workers dying in Qatar since January 2012. Responding to the news reports, Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs told The Guardian that they have increased the current base of labour inspectors by 25 percent and that the ministry is working on investigating the causes of concerned deaths.
“Where any liability is found to rest with employers, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and Qatari law authorities will pursue these cases through the relevant legal channels,” the ministry has stated.