By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter
There will be a significant improvement in the labour housing situation in Qatar over the next few years on account of the ongoing reforms, a noted academic has predicted.
“The international teams that visited the new residential facilities for the workers in the Labour City in Mesaimeer and Barwa Al Baraha over the last few months have expressed their appreciation,” Dr Rajai Ray Jureidini pointed out.
The senior member of the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) was delivering a public lecture on ‘Limitations of Migrant Labour Reforms in Qatar’ on Wednesday.
“The ongoing initiatives to improve the working conditions and housing facilities of workers are in line with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation and requirements of such entities as the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Rail and Ashghal,” he explained.
The professor of Migration, Ethics and Human Rights at HBKU recalled that after conducting a host of on-the-spot studies on the conditions of the expatriate workers, particularly construction labourers, in the last few years, the teams from the QF had made some invaluable and significant recommendations to the labour and social welfare authorities.
“The decision to set up residential facilities of superior standards as those in Mesaimeer and Barwa Al Baraha project on the south eastern side of Doha Industrial Area is the result of such recommendations. The study teams had reported the deplorable conditions of some of the labour camps, especially those in the Industrial Area, to the authorities and actions were initiated against the operators.”
Dr Jureidini was of the view that the recent decision to appoint more labour inspectors to oversee the activities at the work sites as well as to monitor the facilities at the residential accommodations too has gone down well with the visiting teams and international organisations.
“When the labour reforms are fully implemented by the end of this year, as announced by labour authorities late last year, the country’s workforce is expected to experience more changes in their work scenario.”
The introduction of the Wage Protection System and the decision to set up three exclusive hospitals for workers in the Doha Industrial Area, Mesaieed Industrial City and Ras Laffan Industrial City too are some of the good initiatives meant to improve the living conditions of the country’s expatriate workers.
“The transfer of workers’ salaries through banks would ensure that workers are paid on time by their employers,” the academic noted.
While deliberating on the law pertaining to the entry and exit of the workers, Dr Jureidini said the sponsor or his representative is bound to issue exit permits to expatriate employees within 72 hours after submitting the request for the exit permit. “If the exit is not granted in the stipulated time, the sponsor is liable to explain why the exit is not granted to the employee,” he said.
The migration expert also explained that the sponsor is expected to return the passport of his employee immediately after completing his mandatory residential permit procedures. If he continued to retain the passport, the sponsor could attract a fine of up to QR50,000.
While explaining the procedures of the no objection certificate for those seeking to change sponsorship and employment, the speaker said as per the provisions of the new labour law no permission is required to change the job for one who has completed five years (if there is a written contract between an employee and employer) under the same sponsor.
“However, for contracts to be issued from December 2016, when the new labour reforms are expected to be in place, the period may go up to 2022, he added.
Decent housing for citizens, residents
The State of Qatar attaches special importance to the provision of decent housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living for citizens and residents.
This came in a speech delivered by the third Secretary of Qatar Permanent Mission to the UN Office at Geneva Ghanem Ali al-Marri before the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council, under the item (3) titled: “Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on adequate and decent housing as a component of the right to an adequate and decent standard of living”.
Al-Marri pointed out that Qatar had issued Housing Law No. 2 of 2007, which regulates access to appropriate housing and the right to an adequate and decent housing as follows: including ‘Housing Loan’ for those whose financial resources enable them to repay the value of the loan, and housing for the needy who are covered by the social security scheme.”
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