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Fifa forces Qatar to beef up construction workers’ rights

Organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have published workers’ welfare standards, which will be incorporated into all of its construction contracts.

Qatar had until 12 February to inform football’s world governing body, Fifa, how it would reform working practices following criticism from welfare bodies (NCE 21 November 2013).

The standards have been developed with help from the International Labour Organisation and set clear guidelines to protect workers throughout the supply chain.

Publication of the standards complements the work of the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs (MOLSA). It wants to boost enforcement of workers’ rights. In the last six months MOLSA has increased the number of trained labour inspectors by 30%.

The standards address concerns highlighted in recent reports about working and living conditions of workers in Qatar’s construction sector.

These include

  • Payment of wages: Contractors must set up bank accounts for their workers, which will help payments, creating an auditable transaction system that will help the Supreme Committee verify that all workers are being paid in full and on time.
  • Accommodation: Comprehensive specifications for worker accommodation, setting clear guidelines for everything from the number of beds per room to a minimum standard for cleanliness and hygiene.
  • Enforcement: A four-tier audit system, implemented with the support of independent auditors. Progress reports based on the audits are to be made public to track progress and share lessons learnt with government stakeholders and the international community.

The committee said it will penalise contractors failing to comply with the standards and will, in extreme cases, terminate a contract with a company that is continually in breach of the standards.

But it stressed that its focus would be on working with contractors to improve standards on a continuous basis.

Qatar 2022 will present the standards to Fifa on 13 February.

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