The Qatari official assumed his position following a Cabinet reshuffle in October last year by the leader of the Gulf state.
Qatar’s Minister of Labour Ali bin Saeed bin Smaikh Al Marri has been elected as the Vice-President of the Labour Conference in Geneva on Friday.
The UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) said Al Marri as elected as part of its recognition for Qatar’s pivotal role to develop it labour sector, including its introduction of historic reforms.
“It also reflects the confidence of Asia and the Pacific countries placed in me to perform this important position during the 110th session of the International Labour Conference,” said Al Marri following his election.
Al Marri came to office following a Cabinet reshuffle in October last year by the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The conference is the highest decision-making authority of the ILO.
Doha has been working closely with the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) as well as other international bodies to improve the local work environments. The ILO opened its first office in Qatar in 2018.
The Qatari official was elected alongside other vice presidents during the meeting, a global platform gathering officials in the labour sector to look into practical solutions to improve the rights of workers across the world.
With the latest session being the first to take place in-person since the Covid-19 outbreak, a key area of focus was the impact of the pandemic on the situation of the labour sector.
The officials touched on various recommendations in an effort to identify effective solutions in the aftermath of the pandemic. This is set to be carried out through a number of panels that will look into possible amendments of the ILO’s declaration on the principles and rights of workers to a safe working environment.
Intensive meetings are scheduled to kick off on 30 May and plenary sessions will take place between 6-11 June. The high-level summit will then take place between 10-11 June.
Introducing major reform
The appointment of Al Marri as the country’s new labour minister was seen as a crucial step in improving the local labour sector. Al Marri was previously the chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).
Last year, the 17th General Assembly of the Arab Network of National Human Rights Institutions elected Al Marri as the network’s president during its 2021-22 session.
Since he assumed his position as the labour minister, Al Marri has intensified efforts in ensuring the protection of workers.
In November last year, Al Marri, the local health ministry (MOPH), and the ILO signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in data collection to better address work-related injuries and deaths.
The agreement came as a swift response to an Amnesty report titled “Reality Check” as well as a recent ILO report, both of which revealed gaps in data collection regarding expatriate workers’ injuries and deaths.
This came in addition to historic reform introduced by Qatari authorities since winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup a decade ago. Since then, Qatar has faced international scrutiny by the west over conditions for its migrant workers and a lack of adequate laws to protect them – leading to major reforms.
Among the most major steps was the dismantling of the controversial Kafala system that stopped workers to freely switch jobs. Another is the region’s first ever non-discriminatory minimum wage law, introduced last year.
The minimum-wage law established a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 QAR, including the basic living allowances for select workers. Employers who fail to comply with the law will face a one-year jail sentence and a 10,000 QAR fine.
“[Qatar is] constantly trying to improve, and full of hope, for a brighter future. We are so proud of the development, reform, and progress we have made, and we are grateful for the spotlight that the World Cup provided,” said the amir on Monday during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.