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94% of Qatar's Labour Force is Foreign and Violated

On August 10, 2013

With the ongoing Brazilian protests against the World Cup's preparations, the issue of abused labour is brought to attention again in both Russia and Qatar as they prepare to host the tournament in 2018 and 2022. Last year, Qatar's labour conditions were put under the spot considering the lack of legislations that can protect 94% of the country's work force. The Qatar Foundation has drawn up rules to have contractors pay for the worker’s ticket with three weeks off a year. While praising this step, Human Rights Watch said legislating such rules are not enough if they are not put in practice.

Last month, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) sent a letter to FIFA's Joseph Blatter to ensure that the preparation for the World Cup in Russia and Qatar do not violate the rights of workers. The FIDH recalled "the sports organisation’s responsibility to investigate and remedy reports that workers are being subject to unfair payment practices, excessive work hours, racist violence, and work conditions that can amount to forced labour."

The FIDH's letter quotes a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) estimating that Qatar will recruit one million more to prepare for the World Cup. The FIDH says working conditions for migrant workers in Qatar "amount to forced labour" with acts of "debt bondage, confiscation of passports by employers, overcrowded and unsanitary labour camps, the absence of employment contracts and arbitrary salary deductions." The risk of workers dying in construction sites are not absent. The Nepali embassy in Qatar said 191 Nepali workers died from working conditions in 2010 and another 163 died in 2011. According to Qatari laws, workers are not allowed to form trade unions to protect their rights.