The head of the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) Project Office in Qatar, Houtan Homayounpour, praised the ongoing labour reforms led by Qatar and supported by the ILO on a podcast hosted by Qatar Foundation partner, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q).
Homayounpour praised Qatar for using the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as an opportunity to institutionalise major changes including the removal of the exit visa for domestic workers, the establishment of a non-discriminatory permanent minimum wage, and the removal of the No-Objection Certificate requirement for job transfer, saying “they adopted the legislative changes that they promised.” He also expressed confidence that the country’s commitment to strengthening its labour market would continue beyond the tournament.
The GU-Q podcast features scholars and experts working in fields related to sports and society, and is part of the Building a Legacy: Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 research initiative at the university’s Centre for International and Regional Studies. The research project seeks to examine the implications of staging one of the world’s largest sporting events on the social, political, and economic development of Qatar, as well as on regional and global affairs.
Homayounpour oversaw the implementation of a comprehensive three-year programme supporting the labour reform agenda of Qatar. In the interview conducted by the head of the CIRS research initiative, visiting associate professor, Dr Danyel Reiche, he answered questions about the labour market and the future of labour law reforms beyond the World Cup.
The ILO representative shared promising signs of increased private sector interest in joint committees that bring company management and elected worker representatives to the table for dialogue and discussions. "It's really incredible what has happened in the past three years, in such a short period of time,” he said adding the implementation phase of any reforms on a national scale will take time. He said the changes improve migrant welfare and contribute to Qatar’s economy by fostering competition in the private sector, though challenges remain.
Homayounpour credited the co-operation and collaboration of all stakeholders in pushing through the recent reforms, including the country’s leadership, government ministries, NGOs, labour unions, and various UN organisations. “Any mega sporting event has the potential to bring visibility and to be used as a platform for dialogue between different stakeholders. And that's what happened here. It opened the window of opportunity for different partners to engage,” he added.