Law No. 18 of 2020 removed the need for workers to obtain their employer’s permission to change jobs while also establishing a non-discriminatory minimum wage.
FIFA is meeting with a delegation from Amnesty International in Zurich, to discuss the human rights and overall situation of migrant workers in Qatar with regards to the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The meeting will give the opportunity for Amnesty International to provide FIFA with a petition to address the matter. This will be followed with a discussion with FIFA officials and its local partners in the Gulf country to look at the substantial progress made so far and the challenges that need to be tackled.
“We very much welcome the ongoing engagement with Amnesty International and are always open to transparently and constructively discussing and addressing any concerns that our stakeholders may have,” said FIFA’s Chief Social Responsibility and Education Officer, Joyce Cook.
According to FIFA, it had previously contributed to the improvement of migrant worker conditions in Qatar, with robust standards set by the local World Cup organisers and broad legislative change had been introduced around labours’ rights.
The conference with Amnesty International and labour experts will also shed light on the current status of the reforms that FIFA had previously implemented. They will also look at ongoing efforts that are put in place for the changes to be finalised across the labour market in Qatar.
“We remain fully committed to ensuring the protection of workers engaged in the delivery of the World Cup, and we are confident that the tournament will also serve as a catalyst for broader positive and lasting change across the host country,” noted Cook.
Following recent exchanges with FIFA and Amnesty International, the discussion will especially gear towards the topic of the welfare of migrant workers in the service sector, particularly the hospitality sector.
Some of the efforts included the “development of an audit and inspection program for the hospitality sector as well as due diligence measures for service companies deployed on FIFA competition sites,” FIFA reported.
The dialogue between FIFA, Amnesty International and labour experts will pave way for the initiatives to be discussed in a detailed manner as part of FIFA’s impetus of addressing human rights with relevant organisations ahead of its tournament in November 2022.
Qatar’s efforts in labour rights
In 2014, workers groups lodged a complaint against Qatar at the International Labour Organization (ILO). In 2017, following “extensive documentation of the abuse of low-paid migrant workers the [Qatari] government signed an agreement with the ILO, committing to a three-year, wide ranging reform process.” Through the cooperation, Qatar and the ILO agreed to work together from 2018 to 2020 to “align [Qatar’s] laws and practices with international labour standards and fundamental principles and rights at work.” Amnesty International reported.
Amnesty International and FIFA
In 2021, Amnesty International called out FIFA regarding the concerns over worker rights in Qatar and urged it to use its leverage with the relevant Qatari authorities to enhance the situation for migrant labours in the country, “living up to its international human rights responsibilities.”
While FIFA, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC have worked to cement the five sustainability commitments, which included human rights, diversity and environmental protection, Amnesty International expresses that “labour abuse remains prevalent” in Qatar.
In the report, Amnesty International said “while FIFA might not be directly linked to human rights harm occurring in service sectors operating outside of FIFA accredited World Cup sites, it nonetheless has a responsibility to mitigate human rights risks that arise from the increase in business in these related sectors created by the tournament.”
Migrant workers “exploited” ahead of the World Cup
The Qatar-based UrbaCon Trading and Contracting Company (UCC) has extended its working hours for their employees and has eliminated Friday as a day off in an attempt to wrap up the World Cup projects in time.
Doha News reported that workers did not receive a ‘prior notice’ regarding the change and whether they can perform accordingly. The company will also not pay the workers for the extra hours.
The company provided Doha News with a statement saying, “UCC takes the physical and mental wellbeing of our workers very seriously. Working extra hours and overtime are offered and compensated in accordance with the Labour law.”
Qatar’s Labour Law does not mandate private companies to compensate their workers for the extra time input, as much as it does not require employers to ask before extending working hours. However, Friday is regarded as the official weekly rest day for all employees, with an exception for those on shifts.