Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) has announced an agreement with the global Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) group for joint inspections of construction and accommodation sites.
The agreement, which was signed in Qatar at the SC’s Doha headquarters by SC secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi and BWI general secretary Ambet Yuson, will cover construction site and accommodation inspections, training and a review of the SC’s current grievance mechanisms. The agreement will initially last for one year.
The joint inspections will at first focus on projects that are being built by multinational companies that are headquartered in countries where BWI currently has representation. To date the companies that fall under the agreement are from Austria, Belgium, Italy, India, and Cyprus – companies all employed on SC projects.
“Signing this partnership with BWI is a major step for the Supreme Committee which demonstrates our commitment to the health and safety of our workers,” said al-Thawadi in a statement. The inspections will begin in January 2017.
The BWI represents more than 300 trade unions representing some 12mn members globally, according to its website.
As well as the joint labour and accommodation inspections that will take place regularly throughout the duration of the agreement, the SC and BWI will form a Joint Working Group (JWG) that will manage the inspections and reporting obligations. The JWG will meet to review the work that has been done to date and produce an independent report that will be released to the public after every JWG meeting.
Drawing upon expertise from its 340 affiliates within 130 countries, BWI will also conduct health and safety training for the SC and its contractors working on World Cup projects that fall under the agreement. BWI will review and assess the SC’s current Workers’ Welfare Forums – a mechanism developed to allow workers to express and resolve their grievances and other issues that are mandated by the SC as part of the Workers’ Welfare Standards (WW Standards).
Yuson said: “This is an important step to build on the mechanisms currently in place which ensure workers’ safety on projects directly related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As a global union, BWI will now work with the SC to review and assess the SC’s health and safety training system. We will get access to worksites and conduct labour inspections which are important preventive mechanisms against work-place accidents.”
Al-Thawadi said: “This MoU comes at a crucial stage of our World Cup journey. As the number of workers engaged on our project reaches its peak of over 30,000 in the next 12 months, our inspection and auditing processes will need to be bolstered to ensure we continue to deliver sustainable and meaningful progress for our workers. While we have made a number of improvements in the last two years, from health and safety to accommodation standards, we recognise there is still work to be done. That’s why we welcome this MoU and look forward to continuing the relationship we began building with the BWI over two years ago.”
The SC currently has eight construction sites underway across Qatar and just under 10,000 workers on-site at any given time. The number of workers engaged on World Cup construction projects is expected to rise to 36,000 in the next 12 months as various projects approach completion or the main works stage, with Khalifa International Stadium expected for completion in Q1 2017 and the Al Wakrah and Qatar Foundation stadiums both rapidly heading towards their completion dates in 2018.
Dietmar Schäfers, deputy president of IGBAU Germany and Chair of the BWI Sports Campaign Group, commented on the MoU signing, saying: “The BWI Sports Campaign Group has been engaging with FIFA and other global sports bodies since 2006. What we signed today makes it clear that the health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy as they prepare to host the world’s biggest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup. This is a positive step and we hope many others will follow their lead for future mega-events.”
SC secretary general Hassan al-Thawadi and BWI general-secretary Ambet Yuson shaking hands after signing the MoU in Doha yesterday.