First rally for workers’ rights in Qatar

Migrant workers were given a voice for the first time in Doha as trade union members wore masks of two Nepali workers in a rally to highlight the abuses of guest workers in the Gulf State.

1.2 million migrant workers in Qatar are denied the right to form or join a union. A construction boom is expected in the next ten years ahead of the 2022 World Cup with billions of dollars of infrastructure projects underway.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary ITUC said workers live in squalid labour camps, don’t receive their wages on time and have no independent arbitrator to handle workplace complaints.

“Migrant workers have no rights, no voice here in Qatar. More people will die building the World Cup infrastructure than players will play on the field. ”

The rally on Saturday 1 December was the culmination of three days of action in Doha led by ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow to press the Qatari authorities to ratify and implement ILO standards including freedom association and the right to collectively bargain.

The first ‘Union Picnic’ was held in a local park under the shadow of Doha’s towering financial district. Sixty trade union members and workers celebrated a worldwide union tradition which brings workers together socially to celebrate unity.

The General Secretary of the ITUC also met with the Qatari Minister for Social Affairs and Acting Minister of Labour, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee and the Qatar National Human Rights Committee.

"After a full and frank discussion, Qatar’s labour minister assured me that if workers want to establish a union he will make sure that those who decide to join a union will not be punished. We will test him on that," said Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC is campaigning for Qatar to do the right thing and introduce workers’ rights and has launched a global online campaign Qatar: Do the right thing – No World Cup without Workers’ rights.

Last week Norwegian national coach Egil "Drillo" Olsen joined the campaign by taking a virtual seat in Al-rayan football stadium to put pressure on the Qatari authorities to improve conditions for migrant workers.

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See the collection of photos with the Dinner with migrant workers Thursday 29th November, Trade Union Solidarity meeting Friday 30th November, Union Picnic Friday 30th November and the Rally Saturday 1 December

See also Photos of conditions in the labour camps and the contrast between Qatari’s and migrant workers in Doha