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Labour unions claim Qatar visa rules allow ‘forced labour’ by stadium construction workforces

Labour unions claim Qatar visa rules allow ‘forced labour’ by stadium construction workforces
January 21, 2013

International unions have lodged a new case with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) citing the use of "forced labour" in Qatar.

With only 300,000 Qatari nationals, 1.2 million migrant workers are needed for the country's infrastructure build-up ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

This is the first time forced labour has been used to define working conditions in Qatar in a case to the ILO.

The representation has been lodged jointly by the International Trade Union Federation (ITUC) and Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI).

It features seven individual cases from hundreds that have been reported to the ITUC.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said the visa sponsorship system in Qatar allows the exaction of forced labour by making it difficult for a migrant worker to leave an abusive employer or travel overseas without permission.

Burrow stated "under Qatari law, employers have near total control over workers. They alone choose if a worker can change jobs, leave the country or stay in Qatar.

"In the next few months, the contracts for the new World Cup stadia and infrastructure will be announced. Millions more workers will be hired from overseas for the road, rail and building infrastructure for the World Cup.

"We are putting multinational companies tendering for these contracts on notice to abide by international law and respect workers' rights."

The Labour Relations Department of the Ministry of Labour in Qatar received 6,000 worker complaints last year.

According to local media reports, the top concerns facing workers included employers not fulfilling obligations under the visa sponsorship system, including refusal to give end-of-service benefits, and also delays in paying wages. In some cases, workers are not paid at all.

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson concluded "many workers suffer exploitation for fear of retaliation. The government must put their 150 labour inspectors to work and make the complaints process accessible to the majority of workers, many of whom do not speak English or Arabic."

Once received, the ILO will establish a tripartite committee to review the evidence and make recommendations to the government of Qatar on how to comply with its international commitments.

For more information go to act.equaltimes.org/en/fillastadium

14th December 2012 - QATAR PROMISES TO TAKE THE HEAT OUT OF 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP

29th October 2012 - GLOBAL WORKERS’ RIGHTS CAMPAIGN TARGETS QATAR WORLD CUP STADIA

23rd January 2012 - AL THAWADI EMPHASISES QATAR 2022 CONTRACTORS WILL RESPECT WORKERS’ RIGHTS


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