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The Case Against Qatar: Host of the FIFA 2022 World Cup

[Logo the International Trade Union Confederation. Image from] [Logo the International Trade Union Confederation. Image from]

[The following report was published by the International Trade Union Confederation on 16 March 2014]

The Case Against Qatar: Host of the FIFA 2022 World Cup

Qatar is a government which takes no responsibility for workers. $140 billion of infrastructure is forecast to get Qatar ready to host the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar’s own estimates are that 500,000 extra workers will be needed in the run up to the World Cup. Frequent contacts with Qatar authorities since late 2011 have shown no political will or progress towards Qatar implementing labour-related commitments of the Qatar National Vision 2030 to reform kafala and ratify a further fourteen ILO conventions.

FIFA has said it expects international norms of behaviour from all hosts and expects that the FIFA World Cup can trigger positive social change in Qatar, including improving the labour rights and conditions of migrant workers. On 21 November 2013, FIFA called on “economic and political leaders to join the football community in contributing to ensure that the International Labour Organization’s core labour standards are introduced quickly, consistently and on a sustained basis in Qatar.

What Qatar is Not Doing

Qatar’s response to public criticism and to official contacts over the past three years has been piecemeal, anarchic and focused on public relations:

  • Despite public promises, there has been no change to the kafala law;
  • There have been no moves to bring legislation into line with international standards on freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • Qatar has refused to work with reputable international labour hire companies, whose involvement would help to clean up the exploitative, chaotic and abusive way in which migrant workers are recruited in sending countries;
  • “Workers Charters” promoted by Qatar in the media over the past year have made no difference – the death toll is increasing and exploitation is still rampant;
  • Qatar has announced plans to re-house 28,000 migrant workers in better accommodation – i.e., 2% of the migrant workforce. Previous initiatives of this type have faced years of delays due to ineffective planning processes – getting a permit for a skyscraper is much more easy than for a labour accommodation facility; and
  • Qatar has implied in its public relations that it has been hold- ing discussions with the ITUC on its “Charters”. The ITUC rejects this mischaracterisation of its efforts to engage in serious dialogue with Qatar.

Recommendations for Migrant Workers’ Rights in Qatar:

  • End the kafala system;
  • Introduce laws to allow freedom of association and collective bargaining for all workers in Qatar;
  • Put in place effective grievances procedures;
  • Clean up the recruitment system and work with responsible international recruitment agencies; and
  • Ensure a minimum living wage, and end the race-based wage discrimination which is rife in Qatar.

[To read the full report click here]

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