Trade union slams 'weak' Qatar response on World Cup workers abuse

AFP, Wednesday 2 Oct 2013

Qatar's response to claims that the 2022 World Cup organisers were treating Nepalese construction workers like slaves was "weak and disappointing," the International Trade Union Confederation said Tuesday.

ITUC, which is sending a delegation to Qatar next week to monitor working conditions for the migrants, is fighting exploitation of workers and dangerous working conditions on building sites in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.

On Monday however, the head of Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, Ali Al-Marri, admitted some problems but denied claims by the Guardian newspaper that the Nepalese workers were treated like "slaves."

The Work Ministry's Ali Ahmad Al-Khalifi meanwhile pledged it would double the number of work inspectors to 150.

"There are already labour inspectors and they have no impact," said ITUC Secretary-General Sharan Burrow. "The promise simply to increase the number of labour inspectors is weak and disappointing."

"What is needed are laws that protect workers' rights to join a union, bargain collectively and refuse unsafe work, and only then can inspectors do their job."

ITUC launched a complaint in March with the labour ministry against six Qatari companies after being contacted by workers.

The union body says Qatar's labour ministry received 6,000 worker complaints in 2012 while the Indian embassy there received 1,500 complaints in the first five months of this year.

It says workers are made false promises on the nature of the work, that employer obligations on wages and working conditions are not met, that contracts are not respected, that passports are withheld, that workers are indebted to recruiters or moneylenders, and that workers are forced to live in crowded squalid camps.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

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