*'Qatar not leaving any stone unturned to ensure workers are protected from ill-effects of this crisis'
*Labour Ministry, expat community heads, BWI and international labour leaders hold remote meeting
*Representatives of Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and African communities participate in event
Qatar has reaffirmed its commitment to preserving the dignity of expatriates and ensuring the continuation of the decent work environment in the country and protecting expatriate workers from the negative effects arising from the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
This came during the remote meeting organised by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and expatriate community leaders in Qatar and Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and a number of international labour leaders on the occasion of the celebration of International Workers Day.
In his speech during the meeting, the Ministry's Assistant Undersecretary Mohamed Hassan al-Obaidli, firmly restated Qatar's commitment to upholding the dignity of labour.
He explained that "time and again, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, has issued statements and directives to the government of Qatar to ensure that decent work is upheld in our country. Time and again, we expressed our deepest gratitude for the migrant workers who have helped and continue to help build our country. The government of Qatar is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that workers are protected as much as possible from the ill-effects of this crisis."
Al-Obaidli added: "We have issued guidelines on health and employment; we have collaborated with you in information and education campaign enabling us to reach close to 300,000 workers so far; we have instituted alternative mechanisms for labour complaints, given the need for restriction in movements of people; we have heightened inspections and taken legal action against violators of the standards as set forth in our laws"
He said: "I am glad to inform you that in a letter sent by a group of international trade unions and civil society organisations to the government of Qatar, it was stated that they do recognise that Qatar exercises transparency regarding the management of the crisis and they do commend Qatar's approach in managing the crisis".
Addressing the community leaders and workers' representative, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson emphasised that "it's difficult time — we feel fear, uncertainty, thinking of our family back home. I want to assure you that the global unions — BWI, IDWF, ITUC, UNI, ITF are here for you. It' time for unity and global solidarity."
In recognition of institutions in Qatar, Yuson added the "Ministry of labour and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy are doing their best to ensure your health and safety; to make sure your wages and benefits are paid."
Representatives of Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and African communities during the event presented experiences and initiatives of their respective migrant community associations in addressing the needs of workers' from their communities.
Also present at the meeting was the Head of ILO Qatar project, Houtan Homayounpour, who said: "Despite the difficult circumstances, it is still very important for us to get together and celebrate International Labour Day. It's a tribute to all of you, for what you do."
Leaders of global unions International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), International Transport Federation (ITF), UNI Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) sent pre-recorded messages to the meeting.
In her message, General Secretary of the ITUC Sharan Burrow said: "Qatar has provided support both in accommodation in terms of food and other elements that you've raised but also in the workplaces to make sure that workers can be as safe as possible under Covid-19".