Qatar seeks to improve tarnished image over migrant workers
DOHA - Qatar revealed a set of guidelines on Tuesday aimed at protecting the rights of thousands of expatriate workers employed on construction projects, as the emirate prepares to host the 2022 football World Cup.
The gas-rich Gulf state, which is under mounting criticism from rights groups over the conditions of migrants working in its booming construction industry, invited the International Labour Organisation to verify the process of enforcing laws.
Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy on Tuesday released the Workers' Welfare Standards, which require "contractors to set up bank accounts for their workers, which will help facilitate payment, creating an auditable transaction system that will help the Supreme Committee verify that all workers are being paid in full and on time".
The standards also laid down specifications for workers' accommodation, "setting clear guidelines for everything from the number of beds per room to a minimum standard for cleanliness and hygiene".
The Supreme Committee will require contractors and sub-contractors, to ensure "world-class" health and safety for workers, equality in their treatment, and protect their dignity.
Amnesty International said in November that migrant workers were being treated like "animals," and urged FIFA to press Qatar to improve the conditions of the foreign labourers, most of them from South Asia.
Amnesty said the workers suffered a series of abuses including "non-payment of wages harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation".
The Supreme Committee has "engaged" the ILO "to look at the entire process from recruitment to living and working conditions upon arrival, and made sure to incorporate all of this into its planning ahead of any major stadium construction work".
FIFA had said the Qatari committee's report will be used to prepare a hearing on Thursday at the European Parliament on the conditions of migrant workers.
Dr Theo Zwanziger, former president of the German Football Federation, will attend Thursday's hearing as the FIFA representative mandated to deal with the matter.
After the session at the European Parliament, another detailed report will be delivered to the FIFA Executive Committee on March 20 and 21.
In October, international trade unionists inspecting the plight of migrant labour in Qatar, described their situation in the Gulf country as "not acceptable".