* Abolition of NOCs, minimum wage, upgrades to WPS being implemented
Qatar has made significant progress in ensuring workers' rights and a report published by Human Rights Watch did not reflect the current situation in the country, the Government Communications Office on Monday said.
New laws that are being implemented to secure workers' welfare include doing away with No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) and the introduction of a minimum wage – the first of its kind in the Middle East. Also upgrades are being made to the Wage Protection System (WPS) and the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund.
"In its report published on August 24, Human Rights Watch intentionally misled readers while performing a disservice to those they claim to be assisting," the GCO said in a statement.
According to the GCO, the current report contains repeated inaccuracies around policies and does not reflect the current situation in Qatar. "Nearly all individuals who come to Qatar for employment never experience any form of wage abuse. There are a few, isolated, instances where workers experience this issue. These cases have declined as laws and regulations have driven fundamental and lasting change."
The GCO said HRW has not shown a true willingness to work with it in a collaborative way but rushed the inaccurate report without adequate consultation.
"Human Rights Watch reached out to the government only prior to the publication of the report. We never heard about these issues in real time or in any of our engagement with them. If notice had taken place earlier, the government would have worked to address the issues raised by the workers interviewed in the report. A backward-looking annual report does little to address the specific challenges raised by the workers," the statement said.
"Going forward, the government is available to work collaboratively with Human Rights Watch when they have issues related to wage abuse or any other employment concern, as we do with other NGOs.
"The recommendations put forward in the report by Human Rights Watch are already being implemented or on track to begin implementation. This includes laws that remove No-Objection Certificates and the introduction of a minimum wage – the first of its kind in the Middle East. Currently, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation, upgrades are being made to the Wage Protection System and the Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund.
"Qatar’s labour programme protects all workers in all stages of their employment cycle. The success of our approach is evident in the achievements we have made to date and the positive impact it is having on hundreds of thousands of workers and those reliant on their income," the statement said.
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