The 200 employees took part in a protest against their company in January.
A private security company that left hundreds of workers unpaid for months has “failed to comply with all of Qatar’s labour laws”, authorities confirmed in a statement to Doha News.
Stark Security was investigated by authorities when 200 members of staff protested to demand outstanding salaries be paid by their company. According to reports, some of those who took part in the protests were allegedly jailed and or deported.
However, Qatar’s International Media Office told Doha News that the labour ministry is now seeking legal action to impose penalties against the business and appeared to suggest that any arrests of staff members were not linked to the protests.
“Qatar does not arrest or deport workers for seeking to resolve their employment disputes,” the statement read.
“Qatar has established several new channels for reporting grievances, and workers are encouraged to speak up when they believe they have been wronged,” the statement added.
“The labour authorities investigate all complaints and take appropriate measures when a violation is recorded. Companies that fail to comply with Qatar’s employment laws are referred to public prosecution, banned from operating in Qatar, and denied access to the Ministry of Labour’s services,” it continued.
Reports that surfaced online claimed dozens of former Stark Security guards were deported to Kenya, India, Pakistan and Nepal following their protest against the company.
Citing a security guard, Reuters reported the employees were allegedly “locked in a dormitory for a week and then, after being paid around $450 for 18 days worked in December, deported.”
In its statement to Doha News, the IMO confirmed “a resolution was swiftly reached between the company and its employees, whereby the workers were remunerated in full for their services and their contracts were concluded in accordance with their specified terms”.
It said the workers were employed on temporary six-month contracts and all contractual requirements were “fulfilled and respected”.
Reforms to protect
Qatar had faced international scrutiny for its treatment of migrant workers in the lead up to last year’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, triggering a mass roll out of reforms to protect its labour force.
Qatar became the first nation in the Gulf to implement a non-discriminatory minimum wage in March 2021. This rate is applicable to all workers, regardless of nationality, in all industries, including domestic work.
As a result, 280,000 workers, or 13% of the workforce, had their pay increased to the new minimum threshold. Employers are required to transfer workers’ wages via Qatari banks so that the Ministry of Labour can watch over the transactions and lessen wage fraud.
Qatar also became the first country in the region to achieve the abolition of the Kafala system in August 2020.
The change allows migrant workers to change jobs before the end of their contract without first having to obtain a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from their employer, dismantling the controversial Kafala system completely and providing protection for workers in the country.
The IMO said several new channels have been established for reporting grievances, “and workers are encouraged to speak up when they believe they have been wronged. The labour authorities investigate all complaints and take appropriate measures when a violation is recorded,” it assured.
Businesses that violate Qatar’s employment rules risk being prosecuted, barred from doing business, and denied access to the ministry of labor’s services.
Between 2021 and 2022, the number of worker complaints made to Qatar’s Ministry of Labour via a new online portal for employees has climbed from 11,000 to 25,000.
Prior to the labour reforms, employees had relatively little options for filing complaints against their employers.
“Qatar has taken extensive action to prevent illegal recruitment fees in labour-sending countries. Through the launch of Qatar Visa Centres (QVCs) – which have opened in several labour-sending countries – Qatar has created a unified visa system that protects the rights of workers by eliminating exploitative practices in their home countries,” it added.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misquoted a government official statement saying “the company broke all labour laws” in Qatar. However, the accurate statement is the company “failed to comply with all of Qatar’s labour laws”. Doha News apologises for this mistake.