A senior labour and social affairs ministry official has described the Guardian report criticising the labour situation in Qatar as a conspiracy.
It must be found out who was actually behind it, said the official, justifying the appointment of a global law firm to probe the allegations of worker rights’ abuse. He said making those allegations was like crossing the red line, so appointing the law firm was imperative.
“If some foreign media maligns the image of Qatar and spreads malicious propaganda, it is like crossing the red line. So there is a need to investigate and bring the truth before the world,” said the undersecretary at the ministry.
Hussain Al Mulla said he could say it with confidence that the accusations were hundred percent false. Some 400,000 Nepali workers are based in Qatar working on various development projects.
“And they remit billions of dollars home every year.” There have just been 15 deaths among them and that is not an alarming number given their size.
Al Mulla, however, said that notwithstanding the conspiracy, there was a need to upgrade the labour situation in the country.
There are currently 150 labour inspectors at the ministry but considering the increasing number of foreign workers, their number is being increased to 250.
And many of these inspectors are being sent to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for intensive training so they could apply the right methods while conducting inspection.
After they are trained they could share their experience with their colleagues here through symposiums and other forms of interaction. There are more than 1.2 million workers in Qatar presently and the largest among them are Indians, followed by the Nepalese, Filipinos and Bangladeshis.
According to Al Mulla, the focus currently is on recruiting more skilled workers because they can take care of their safety and security while the unskilled ones normally don’t. He said it was not right to link the labour issue to FIFA 2022. “We visit the ILO every year and whatever concerns they raise we address immediately.” In fact, the ILO makes remarks about the labour situation in every country.
“As for us, we have never been told by the ILO of anything that was a major or alarming violation of their norms.” On occasions there are foreign media reports criticising the labour situation in Qatar. Experts and activists pay visits and conduct their own investigations and find that those reports have no vestige of truth, Al Mulla told an Arabic daily Al Raya.
About safety and security conditions regarding workers, the undersecretary said regulations were being framed at broader levels and they would not only address safety concerns of workers but also the safety of homes.
Global labour team arrives
DOHA: A delegation from an international labour federation arrived here yesterday to inspect the situation of migrant workers in the 2022 World Cup host.
The 18-member team from the Building and Wood Worker’s International federation will visit construction sites 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. “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 creat awareness and act to improve the situation of workers based on our findings,” he added.
The head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, admitted last week some problems but denied claims that the Nepalese workers were treated like “slaves”. The Adviser of International Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs Ali Ahmed Al Kholeifi pledged to double the number of work inspectors to 150. AFP
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