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Posted On: 31 July 2014 12:44 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 01:51 pm

‘Significant progress’ in worker conditions

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The efforts exerted by Qatar World Cup’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) have resulted in contractors providing better facilities including improved accommodation, free catering, laundry services, on-site medical care and WiFi access to all workers on 2022 projects, a statement issued by the committee said yesterday.

Responding to a report in The Guardian newspaper about the working conditions of labourers employed to build the Al Wakrah Stadium, the SC said it was actively looking into the matters raised by the London-based newspaper concerning the contractor Amana.

“The SC takes allegations of labour regulation violations very seriously. Since we first bid to host the FIFA World Cup we have worked tirelessly to ensure and improve the welfare of workers on 2022 World Cup projects and to be a catalyst for sustainable social progress. While the complex challenges of a globalised labour market cannot be solved overnight, we are making significant progress building and strengthening the necessary systems for monitoring and enforcement.

“In the first stage of our audits, we began by addressing the most pressing matters that guarantee each worker lives and works in a safe and healthy environment. The elevated conditions we have achieved for all workers on SC projects, including those of Amana, are a testament to the progress being made.”

The SC said Amana had paid all labourers on time by electronic transfer and worked proactively to upgrade and ensure that its standards had met the SC’s stringent requirements. However, it said there were challenges with calculation of overtime pay and hours and “we are working with the contractor to rectify any noncompliance”.

On the accusation of passport confiscation, the SC said it expressly forbid any contractor from engaging in such practice. “In the Amana contract, which was under an earlier version of the standards, workers were provided the option of voluntarily, and only with signed consent, handing over their passports to the contractor for safekeeping, and with full access to their passports at any time. Any involuntary confiscation of a passport, whether at Amana or any other contractor, is expressly forbidden and will be investigated.”

The SC said it welcomed and appreciated third party information which led to further improvement of the welfare of workers. “We are continuously striving to ensure every worker has the welfare, protection and dignity they deserve.”

Reacting to another Guardian report on the Al Bidda Tower, the SC said the contractor Lee Trading was never commissioned by nor ever worked for the Supreme Committee on any of its projects.

“The Supreme Committee is a tenant at the Al Bidda Tower, occupying space on 11 floors. We are not the tenant of floors 38 and 39. However, we have been granted use of temporary offices on those floors while we await new office space.

“The SC is responsible for overall building security via our security contractors. This may explain why a e-mail address could have appeared in a building access request to Lee Trading. However, we categorically reject any direct connection with this firm.”

Regarding the issue of non-payment of salaries to some of the Lee Trading employees, the SC said it took very seriously the matter of worker welfare in Qatar.

“We were heavily dismayed to learn of the behaviour of Lee Trading .....When Amnesty International initially raised these issues, we immediately relayed these concerns to the relevant authorities. We understand that the majority of cases have already been settled with employees either repatriated home or, if they chose to remain in Qatar, work for other employers.

“We strongly disapprove of the behaviour of Lee Trading and its treatment of workers and will continue to press for a speedy and fair conclusion to all cases,” the statement added.