Conditions for migrant workers in Qatar have worsened since World Cup, union says

LONDON: Migrant workers in Qatar have faced worsening conditions since the FIFA World Cup, a group of eight global union federations said on Wednesday.

On the eve of FIFA’s 73rd Congress in Rwanda, the Global Union Federations issued a statement expressing “serious concerns on the decent work legacy of the World Cup and the sustainability of labor reforms in Qatar.”

It said: “Reports on the ground in Qatar, reveal continuous breaches of the new labour legislation by rogue employers emboldened by an absence of enforcement and growing confidence that rights violations will go unpunished.”

The unions representing the skills and services sectors claim that reform has stagnated due to a lack of political will, active opposition from many abusive employers, and a lack of progress on the International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

“The threats, arrests, and sudden halt of meaningful cooperation with the Global Union Federations further confirm a deteriorating environment and reticence to build on progress achieved through dialogue and cooperation,” the statement continued.

The unions demanded that Qatar’s government set up a compensation fund for abused workers and establish a center for migrant workers. They also requested that the ILO conduct an independent review of Qatar’s efforts to meet its human rights obligations.

Earlier on Monday, FIFA received an open letter from Amnesty International, which was supported by a million signatures, questioning whether the federation’s proposed “legacy fund” would adequately help workers who had suffered wage theft, illegal recruitment fees, and injuries in Qatar, or compensate the families of those who died.

Following a proposal from the Norwegian Football Federation, FIFA will review on Thursday whether enough has been done to tackle human rights violations and migrant worker deaths in Qatar.

The Guardian has reached out to the Qatari government and the World Cup Supreme Committee for comment.

However, the government has previously stated: “Over the past two decades, Qatar has transformed its labor system, establishing itself as the region’s proud leader when it comes to labor rights. We have taken extensive action — working in conjunction with the ILO and other partners — to improve the lives of all workers in Qatar.”