Qatar World Cup and Migrant Workers

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Qatar World Cup and Migrant Workers

Introduction

The conditions of workers are based on compensation and occupational health and safety (OSH). These are key issues of concern for businesses, workers, human rights groups, and governments. OSH ensures that the rights of workers are respected through suitable working conditions. The working conditions include the provision of protective gears, first aid services, health insurance for work accidents, and a nondiscriminatory environment. On the other hand, compensation ensures workers get a rightful wage commensurate to the delivered services and at the correct time. Good compensation should consider economic conditions such as the purchasing power and inflation. The paper’s aim is to evaluate the circumstances around the working conditions of migrants in Qatar for World Cup preparations in 2022. It includes the validity of the use of the statement “stadium builders in subhuman conditions” in reports run by ”The Telegraph” on May 26, 2014.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA in 2010 picked Qatar to host the World Cup in 2022. Therefore, the country needs stadia, hotels, roads and railways.  Qatar intends to spend approximately $ 100 billion on the projects.   Some $20 billion of the total was slated for roads, $24 billion for rail, and the rest for about 55,000 hotel rooms and 9 modern stadia. In the scheme, Qatar is building a city, Lusali City from the beginning.  The City is also expected to construct a 90,000 seater stadium .

In the construction works privy to World in 2022, Qatar has to import labor because it has a small labor force. Nonetheless, immigrant workers dominate Qatar’s workforce nowadays as well. The country has more than 90 percent of immigrant workers. Of these workers, 40 percent are from Nepal. Thus, Nepales workers make the majority of immigrant workers in Qatar. According to “The Telegraph” (May, 2014), the immigrant workers are building infrastructure related to the world cup. The Telegraph, Guardian and BBC media have carried reports on gross violation of workers’ rights in Qatar in preparation for the World Cup 2022.  The reports show various circumstances in which there is an abuse on migrant workers. The migrants are subjected to poor working conditions and salaries (European Parliament, 2013; ITUC, 2014).

According to Pattison (2013), the workers are exposed to forced labors, withheld salaries, and lack of water at workplace. The employees are also exposed to high temperatures of about 500 Celsius. In addition to these, about 30 Nepalese nationals went to their embassy for refuge for work related incidents.  According to research done by “The Guardian", about 12 construction workers were sharing  the same  room and thus leading to a  risk of getting diseases related to overcrowding. Subsequently, the article  notes that some were begging food due to withheld salaries (Pattison, 2013). The above said also means that those working at the  construction sites are hungry. The situation is aggravated by poor mechanisms of handling workers’ concerns. Those who attempt to complain are victimized through job loss, insults, and assaults. Pattison (2013) notes that several migrant workers from Nepal have died since the construction began. The workers died of heart failure, heart attack, or workplace accidents. According to International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), 2014, about 12 employees die every week. It estimates that about 4000 immigrant workers will have died at the completion of construction of world cup projects (Conway, February 2014).

However, Thomas, in 2014, reports that there has been no death related to World Cup after an interview with Worlld Cup preparation committee. According to the article, the World Cup projects have been restricted to digging holes. The foundations for the projects will be laid in September 2014. Furthermore, only one stadium is on construction.

Qatar has a Kafala sponsorship system where employees are indebted to their employers. By this law, workers have their passports withdrawn by their employers. The Kafala system as structured makes it difficult for immigrant employees to leave Qatar or otherwise change jobs (ITUC, 2014). The system also exposes workers to high visa fees of up to $ 3, 500 by the sponsor. Kafala system is exploited by employers who retain workers’ passports and wages. The law permits an employer to sign the exit for an employee to leave. Sponsorship Law of 2009 requires employees to return passports immediate after successful issuance of an identification card (De, 2010; European Parliament, 2013).

After winning the World Cup bid, Qatar appointed the 2022 Supreme Committee and tasked it with preparations for the World Cup 2022. The committee, in response to reports in “The Guardian” in September 2013, stated that work directly linked to the World Cup had not yet started. However, the committee acknowledges receiving information on abuse of labor in the construction of Lusali City. As such, the relevant government agencies are conducting an investigation to ascertain the happenings. Equally, the committee planned to design decent labor conditions. Other companies involved in the construction of the city held contrary opinions. The companies from the United States and Britain reported having a zero policy towards forced labor and human rights violations. On the other hand, the Lusali Real Estate maintains a strong policy towards occupational health and laws. At the same time, it enforces the Qatar labor law. The company points out that existing labor violation are drawn only from one subcontractor.

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