Q22 workers’ welfare standards released; Amnesty and ITUC criticise it for not doing enough
The Qatar 2022 worker’s welfare standards released by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has been criticised for catering to only those workers directly involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.
“The standards represent a positive – if partial – effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place on World Cup projects,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf, in a press statement.
“While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of a relatively small proportion of migrant workers in Qatar.”
Those excluded from the standards comprise thousands of other workers assigned to infrastructure projects as part of the Qatar 2022 preparations.[boxify cols_use =”1″ cols =”2″ position =”right” order =”none” box_spacing =”10″ padding =”10″ background_color =”#3c3c3c” border_style =”solid” ]
KEY CONCERNS ADDRESSED
The standards released yesterday addresses some of the major concerns raised by rights’ groups in recent months. This include:
• Contractors are to set up bank accounts for their workers, which will help facilitate payment, creating an auditable transaction system that will help the Supreme Committee verify that all workers are being paid in full and on time.
• Accommodations: Comprehensive specifications for worker accommodations, setting clear guidelines for everything from the number of beds per room to a minimum standard for cleanliness and hygiene.
• Independent third-party auditors will be involved in a 4-tier audit system to enforce the standards. Progress reports based on the audits are to be made public in order to track progress and share lessons learnt with government stakeholders and the international community.
The International Trade Union Confederation too has expressed concerns over the standards not addressing one of the main issues of worker rights – the kafala system, calling the charter a “sham for workers”.
“It promises health and safety but provides no credible enforcement. It promises employment standards but gives migrant workers no rights to collectively bargain or join a trade union. It promises equality but does not provide a guarantee of a minimum wage,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC in a press statement.
“The promise to provide freedom of movement for workers is a sham, as Qatar enforces segregation of workers on a racial basis. These standards are built on an old, discredited self-monitoring system which has failed in the past in Bangladesh and other countries where thousands of workers have died. With no legal compliance mechanism such as a tribunal, there is no possibility of enforcing even these provisions.”
Some of the flaws in the charter that ITUC highlighted were:
- Poor representation of worker issues – only one social worker is available for 3500 employees thereby limiting the time to just 41 seconds per week for each worker.
- No clear process of how grievances will be handled. Existing hotline for worker complaints have been proved ineffective.
- No system to record deaths of workers or to ensure autopsies;
- No ban on recruitment agencies who continue to charge fees.
- No changes in working hours or conditions during summers.