Qatar is on its way to becoming a model for the other Gulf states in improving the work environment and ensuring the rights of workers, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) general secretary Sharan Burrow said on Monday.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), she described the opening of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) office in Doha as historic and a great step.
"It is one of the major steps in implementing labour reforms that the Qatar Government agreed on with ILO last November," Burrow said.
The ITUC official stressed the importance of the ILO office in Doha for promoting co-operation with the Qatari Government in order to activate collaboration for workers' rights.
"The programme signed between Qatar and ILO last year has the full support of the ITUC," Burrow asserted, while observing that it will improve labour conditions in the country.
The formal agreement between Doha and the ILO with the support of the Confederation, has led to the best practices when it comes to implementing labour reforms in Qatar.
Burrow pointed out that these practices do not exist in other countries in the region. She called on all GCC countries to respect and implement international regulations for work environment.
She stressed that Qatar has taken great steps in implementing labour reforms and protecting the rights of workers, saying: "We are on the verge of taking decisions that will end the Kafala system." There is a package of measures, that includes a system of registration of contracts, a wage system and a complain mechanism and others, added Burrow
The ITUC general secretary also said that by the end of this year, they expect a new minimum wage to be set and the announcement of the end of the exit visa. "If these measures were implemented then Qatar will be a model to the other Gulf states."
On the co-operation between Qatar and the ITUC, she pointed out that the relations between the two parties are excellent especially after the agreement reached with the ILO late last year.
Burrow said she visited Qatar Foundation Stadium, a medical centre and an accommodation centre. "We observed good labour practice in the stadium site," she said.
The ITUC official expressed happiness with the medical support Qatar provides to the workers and its humanitarian commitment to all workers within the country.
Burrow also spoke about domestic workers, saying that current reforms include all workers. She pointed out that Qatar passed a law on domestic labour and within three years further improvements to this law will be considered.
Regarding labour complaints, Burrow clarified that workers can lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs or ILO office. These complaints will be considered for amicable resolution or referred to the Committee for the Settlement of Labour Disputes, which will solved it within three weeks. She considered this mechanism an exceptional step in the reform system.
The ITUC General Secretary also praised Qatar's intention to establish a fund to support workers, pointing out that this fund is very important as it will pay the wages of workers if the employer did not pay it for any reason.
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