Unions file case against ‘forced labor’ in Qatar with UN agency

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A confederation of trade unions has lodged a “forced labor” claim against Qatar to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization.

Qatar’s restrictive sponsorship laws allow employers to have complete control over its employees, The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) asserted in a statement today as it presented evidence to the UN agency in Brussels. Quoting ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, it said:

“Under Qatari law, employers have near total control over workers. They alone choose if a worker can change jobs, leave the country or stay in Qatar.

ITUC filed the case to the ILO jointly with the Building and Wood Workers International union. The two group had filed a complaint to the ILO four months ago, and took part in a pro-workers rights demonstration during COP18 last month.

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of Building and Wood Workers International, said in the statement:

“Many workers suffer exploitation for fear of retaliation. The Government must put their 150 labour inspectors to work and make the complaints process accessible to the majority of workers, many of whom don’t speak English or Arabic.”

ITUC has ramped up its campaigning against Qatar in the last two years, seeking to put the spotlight on the country’s poor labor standards ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Credit: Photo by Habeeb Abu-Futtaim

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