Qatari Diar warns construction companies against violating labor law

lusail rendering

Rendering/Qatari Diar

Amid growing criticism of labor conditions inside one of its key developments, a senior official at the Qatari Diar has said that the company will not tolerate contractors who flout health and safety regulations.

Speaking at a lecture series yesterday held by the Lusail Real Estate and Development Company (LREDC), Salem Rashed Al Kuwari, the Diar’s senior director of Health, Safety and Environment, said:

“There are some companies who are doing a great job, and we reward them, but there are other companies who are not paying their employees on time or taking care of their health and safety at work place. They should not be in business. I will not wait for the Ministry of Labour to intervene.

We will not work with such companies who do not take safety seriously, either locally or internationally. They are at risk of slowing our projects and tarnishing our reputation. I hope my message is clear. We will not tolerate bad performance.”

Al Kuwari’s remarks follow a bridge collapse in Lusail that injured more than a dozen workers in September, and a media report in the Guardian weeks later containing interviews from Lusail employees complaining about working and living conditions.

After the bridge incident, in which 18 men were injured when steel rods fell on top of them, Lusail halted onsite construction for days to conduct an investigation into what happened. But the contractor on that site – Midmac – has not commented, and Lusail did not elaborate on the cause of the accident.

Enforcement

According to the Peninsula, Lusail will enforce working conditions based on “aggressive observation, inspection and audit.”

The newspaper quotes Sandy Hines, HSE Supervisor at Parsons, which is the project management and construction management consultant for Lusail, as saying:

“We monitor all construction packages, all developers and all site visitors to Lusail City, so be aware. Parsons will be initiating documentation based on aggressive observation, inspection and audit. We are checking every project.

What we expect from you as project managers, engineers, designers and so on is to leave today with an understanding that safety issues are for everyone. It is an issue from the lowest level to senior management.”

It is unclear how Lusail’s new policy will affect its ability to meet project deadlines. The development, reportedly the largest single real estate project in Qatar, has already missed key milestones over the past two years, and its first tenants are slated to move in by the end of this year.

A spokesman for Lusail could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Other large, state-backed companies here, including Qatar Foundation, have also talked tough about protecting workers’ rights in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.

But regulating corporations’ numerous contractors and subcontractors has proved tricky. For example, when bus drivers working under a subcontractor at the Qatar National Convention Center threatened strike action last month over unpaid wages, QF distanced itself from the issue, saying it was a matter for the subcontractor to handle.

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