Browsing 'world cup 2022' News

Shrief Fadl/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A commercial court in Zurich has rejected a lawsuit against FIFA that accused the body of failing to project migrant workers in Qatar.

The legal action was filed against FIFA last month by Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV).

It was supported by the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC) and the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation (BBWWF).

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

FNV asked the court to rule against FIFA for selecting Qatar as 2022 World Cup host before first demanding assurances about “fundamental human and labor rights of migrant construction workers, including the abolition of the kafala system.”

The union, which represents 1.1 million workers in the Netherlands and overseas, filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Bangladeshi man who worked in Qatar.

He was fired before the end of his contract and ended up in debt in his home country due to recruitment fees.

FNV sought only QR37,000 in compensation and damages for 31-year-old Nadim Shariful Alam.

But a victory could have encouraged hundreds of thousands of other blue-collar workers to file legal claims against FIFA.

Reactions

FIFA hailed the Swiss court’s decision, saying it takes working conditions and human rights issues in Qatar “very seriously.”

In a statement yesterday, it added:

“FIFA monitors the situation very closely and, as recently stated by President Infantino, will continue to urge the Qatari authorities to ensure safe and decent working conditions for construction workers.”

The organization also pointed out new developments in terms of labor rights in Qatar over the past few years.

These include the establishment of worker welfare standards, an independent auditing system and plans to allow a global trade union to inspect worker accommodation this year.

SCDL

Workers on Khalifa stadium renovation

However, these reforms only apply to the fraction of blue-collar workers in Qatar who are on specific World Cup projects, such as building the stadiums.

They do not apply to the hundreds of thousands of other expats working on major infrastructure projects ahead of 2022.

For its part, FNV expressed disappointment in the ruling.

“We regret this decision very much, because it leaves migrant workers out in the cold,” it said in a statement yesterday.

But the group added that it remains committed to the rights of Qatar workers and is now planning their “next steps” in this regard.

Thoughts?

SCDL

Cooling helmet

Construction workers on 2022 World Cup projects in Qatar will have an easier time keeping cool this summer with the help of some new hard-hats.

In the coming months, the workers will be given solar-powered cooling helmets that were developed by researchers at Qatar University, tournament organizers have announced.

The helmets can reduce skin temperature by up to 10C. This makes it easier for those working outdoors to survive Qatar’s searing summer heat, which regularly surpasses 40C.

SCDL

Cooling helmet

The helmet is about 300g heavier than a typical hard-hat. It has been tested to ensure its effectiveness and safety, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL) said in a statement.

How it works

Equipped with a small solar panel, the helmet uses a solar-powered fan to blow air over a cooling material at the top of the hat.

This “will then come down over the front of the person’s face and provide a cooler micro-climate for the worker,” said Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, a professor at QU’s College of Engineering.

He added:

“By reducing the temperature of the head and face, the rest of the body will naturally follow and ensure that workers have a constant flow of cooler air to refresh them throughout their day.”

Worker treatment

Qatar companies’ treatment of expat blue-collar workers have been under scrutiny in recent years.

Rights groups have been putting pressure on FIFA to improve the quality of working and living conditions here for many.

Construction workers eat at Khalifa Stadium

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Khalifa Stadium mess hall

World Cup organizers have responded to criticism by establishing a workers’ charter, improved accommodation and even permitting a trade union to accompany inspectors at their construction sites next year.

However, the number of expats working directly on tournament projects remains small – around 10,000 people.

In the coming year, this is expected to more than triple to 36,000 people, according to the SCDL.

But this is still a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of migrant construction workers in the country.

For most of these men, high-tech cooling gear remains out of reach.

However, last year, local firms that sell such products did say they are starting to see increasing sales.

Thoughts?

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A Dutch trade union has filed a lawsuit against FIFA for allegedly failing to demand labor reforms for workers in Qatar.

FIFA has been summoned to appear in a commercial court in Zurich, the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) said in a statement yesterday.

The claim is supported by the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC) and the Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation (BBWWF).

FNV has asked the court to rule against FIFA for selecting Qatar as 2022 World Cup host before first demanding assurances about “fundamental human and labor rights of migrant construction workers, including the abolition of the kafala system.”

MCaviglia/Wikimedia

FIFA headquarters

Additionally, FNV has requested that the court mandate FIFA safeguard the rights of construction workers in the run-up to the World Cup by insisting adequate reforms are implemented in Qatar.

The FNV, which represents 1.1 million workers in the Netherlands and overseas, had first warned of legal action in October.

At the time, it said it was filing a lawsuit on behalf of a Bangladeshi man who worked in Qatar.

Setting precedent

The man worked as an unskilled laborer here and is now a member of the FNV trade union.

He was fired before the end of his contract and said he is in debt in his home country due to recruitment fees.

The union said at the time that it was seeking 10,000 Swiss Francs (approximately QR37,000) in compensation and damages for 31-year-old Nadim Shariful Alam.

Lance Cenar

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Though the amount is relatively small, the Guardian said a victory could “open the door” for hundreds of thousands of other blue-collar workers to file legal claims against FIFA.

The cost “could run into tens of millions of pounds and further damage the credibility of a tournament,” the newspaper added.

For its part, FIFA has stressed the need to uphold worker welfare in Qatar.

Paul Hughes/SCDL

FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura

During a visit here last month, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura conceded that the nation faces “several challenges” with regards to human rights.

But she added that such issues are “everywhere you go” and that Qatar was no exception.

Qatar reforms

News of the lawsuit comes just days before Qatar introduces changes to a law governing the employment of expats in the country.

The legislation, which has received a mix reaction at home and abroad, will make it easier for some residents to change jobs and leave the country.

Construction workers eat at Khalifa Stadium

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Khalifa Stadium mess hall

But it stops short of abolishing the need for an exit permit or no objection certificate for expats.

Meanwhile, authorities recently announced that it will allow international trade union workers to help inspect World Cup construction sites for one year.

Starting in January, members of Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) will accompany Qatar tournament organizers during these visits.

Thoughts?