Doha: A delegation from an international labour federation arrived on Monday in Qatar to inspect the situation of migrant workers in the 2022 football World Cup host, amid claims of severe exploitation.
The 18-member team from the Building and Wood Worker’s International federation will visit construction sites in the Gulf state and report on the situation.
“This mission is to inspect the conditions of work in the construction sites,” said Gilles Letort, from the CGT French union upon arrival.
He pointed out that the visit was decided before the revelations made by the British daily, The Guardian, last month, which said 44 Nepalese workers have died on construction sites in Qatar.
“This has been prepared a year ago, and it is not linked to the recent campaign,” he said.
“We will inspect, note, and afterwards try to create awareness and act to improve the situation of workers based on our findings,” he added.
The state has come under mounting pressure to end exploitation of migrant workers, as it embarks on a multi-billion-dollar construction programme to prepare to host the 2022 football World Cup.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) last week slammed as “weak and disappointing” Qatar’s response to media claims that Nepalese workers were treated as slaves.
The head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, Ali Al Merri, admitted last week some problems but denied claims that the Nepalese workers were treated like “slaves”.
The Work Ministry’s Ali Ahmad Al Khalifi meanwhile pledged to double the number of work inspectors to 150, a pledge considered by the ITUC as “weak”.
“There are already labour inspectors and they have no impact,” said ITUC Secretary-General Sharan Burrow.
ITUC lodged a complaint in March with the labour ministry against six Qatari companies after being contacted by workers.
The union body says Qatar’s labour ministry received 6,000 worker complaints in 2012 while the Indian embassy there received 1,500 complaints in the first five months of this year.
Among the complaints are that false promises are made to workers, employer obligations on wages and working conditions are not met, contracts are not respected, passports are withheld, workers are indebted to recruiters or moneylenders, and workers are forced to live in crowded squalid camps.