ITUC Confronts Qatari Labour Minister with New Evidence of Abuse of Migrant Workers

Photo evidence from camps housing hundreds of migrant workers in Qatar was today presented to the Qatari Labour Minister at a special meeting convened during the ILO conference in Geneva.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said migrant workers live and work in Qatar in horrendous conditions with no rights. A commitment from the Qatari authorities on freedom of association is a fundamental requirement for the ITUC.

“The international unions have taken up the case of migrant workers’ rights in Qatar. Only by having freedom of association and free trade unions, with the right to collectively bargain, will migrant workers have the protections they need,” said Sharan Burrow.

The photos of a workers’ camp anonymously handed over to the ITUC last week showed
 Overflowing rubbish
 Sewage tankers alongside workers’ housing
 One working toilet stall for 150 workers
 Billowing industrial smoke from a fire at warehouse next to a workers’ camp

“Working and living conditions for migrant workers in Qatar are modern-day slavery. As it undertakes a massive construction job for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is putting at risk the lives of thousands upon thousands of workers. Without genuine legal protection and union rights, more workers will die building the World Cup stadiums than players will play in the World Cup itself,” said Sharan Burrow.

A photograph of a notice for workers posted on a camp notice board set out stringent leave provisions for workers. Annual leave is only given after one or two years’ completion of work. The notice said leave provisions for casual leave are:
 Three days per year
 One day per quarter
 No two consecutive days can be used.
 No two consecutive months can be used.

“Labour migration must not be done by agents that exploit workers but by reputable companies which respect international law. With the massive influx of new migrant workers, the Qatari authorities must ensure that migrant workers are not exploited,” said Sharan Burrow.

In the meeting with the Qatari Labour Minister, Sharan Burrow requested the Labour Minister join her in a meeting with migrant workers in Qatar, due to take place later this year.