ITUC urges Qatar to improve worker safety

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Dec 3 2013

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)  predicts that more construction workers will die before a ball is even kicked in the 2022 FIFA World Cup unless Qatar takes action to improve worker safety.

ITUC concluded a four-day visit to Qatar on Sunday. The eleven-member delegation held hearings with workers, and expressed concern about the large numbers of women and children in detention centres for migrants, and squalid living conditions for workers.

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of Qatar's successful bid to host the World Cup.

International pressure on Qatar to improve address human rights abuses of workers and to end the kafala system is now growing, said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC:

“This is an easy choice for the Qatari government; the perplexing question is why won’t they take it? Professional and poor workers alike tell the same stories; they came to Qatar with optimism and good will, only to face despair when their employer decides they are disposable and refuses to pay wages, sack them without benefits and or refuse to sign their exit permit.

“We have again offered support for change, but the Government must make a commitment to implement workers’ rights," she said.

“What we’ve seen this week can be summarized as how not to design a system for the global workforce on any basis: human and labour rights; good will and international reputation; or productivity based on loyalty and efficiency.
“International companies should be on notice about the reputation risk of doing in business in Qatar without respect for workers’ rights.

“FIFA have called for the improvements of core ILO standards and an end to the kafala system. They will report back in March 2014. We can only hope the Qatar Government will make the right choice."

ITUC will report back to governments in Australia, Austria, Denmark and the UK as well as the International Labour Organisation, FIFA and the UN Human Rights Rapporteur following the visit.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East