The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has urged that workers injured in a gas explosion at a restaurant in Duhail and a gas leak in the Industrial Area in Doha on Thursday should be given a “kafala amnesty’’ and the choice to change employers or leave the country with their end-of-service benefits.
It has also praised the excellent response of Qatar’s medical and emergency staff.
The ITUC has written to the Qatar Labour Minister, requesting the amnesty and full support of the Qatar government to support workers with any compensation claims through courts.
Eleven people were killed and 35 others injured in an LPG tank explosion on the roof of a restaurant in Duhail, whereas dozens of people were reportedly hospitalised after a gas leak at a chemical plant in the Industrial Area , home to thousands of migrant workers.
“Qatar has been rocked by two tragedies in one day. We are deeply saddened by the death of 11 people in the gas explosion at the restaurant and the scores of injuries. The response of the medical and emergency staff to the overwhelming needs of people has been incredible,” said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow.
According to the official, the gas leak in the Industrial Area puts at risk thousands of workers who live in labour camps across the 52 streets that make up the precinct. Around 60% of people in the Industrial Area are estimated to be Nepali workers.
“We are appealing to the Qatari government to grant a kafala amnesty to injured workers giving them the choice to change employers, or to leave the country with their end-of-service benefit.
“Workers should be given the full support of the government to pursue compensation claims through the courts for workplace accidents, with fees for translation and court processes waived,” said Burrow.
The ITUC has asked the Qatar government to ensure injured migrant workers: are provided with medical care, on release from hospital the employer provides transport to follow-up appointments, salaries are continued to be paid for workers on sick leave, accommodation and food are provided to workers on sick leave, workers have the choice to find work with another employer or leave the country with end-of-service benefits and court fees are waived for compensation claims and legal processes can continue if the worker wishes to leave the country while the case goes to court.