The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has hailed Qatar’s efforts to improve the employment culture saying the recent reforms have contributed to ensuring the protection of human and labour rights of migrant workers.
Addressing a press conference in Doha on Sunday, general secretary of the organisation Kwasi Adu-Amakwah welcomed the reforms and said they are progressive. He is part of the ITUC Africa delegation that concluded yesterday a two-day working mission.
The visit was a follow-up to the commitment that the African Workers Group made during the 2021 Africa-Arab Labour Migration Webinar Conference hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in order to continue to explore ways to build cohesion and find means to improve fair recruitment and general labour migration governance.
“From the visits and interactions with workers, we are confident that the reforms are real and are being implemented, albeit with some challenges," Adu-Amakwah said.
"Qatar has established several best practice initiatives such as the elimination of exit visas while giving freedom to change employers. These have led to the progressive reform of the sponsorship system. Also, it has implemented a national minimum wage payment that includes accommodation and feeding, and those who opt out of company accommodation and feeding provisions have the option of being paid in lieu,” he said, noting that the reforms have also delivered improved health and safety requirements in construction sites and anywhere the temperature exceeds a certain degree.
The ITUC-Africa general secretary observed that signing of labour contracts in Qatar Visa Centres (QVC) before migrant workers’ departure to avoid discrepancies upon arrival in Qatar, and the establishment of workers’ representative councils have resulted in ensuring the rights of workers.
The delegation that included 11 members from eight African countries visited several places – work and construction sites, organisations and interacted with different categories of stakeholders involved in and connected to the reform processes such as ILO officials, officials from the Ministry and Minister of Labour as well as the Qatar Human Rights Committee and the Shura Council.
Adu-Amakwah said that the mission was undertaken as a way of building and enhancing social dialogue between Qatar and the African trade union movement. “It should be recalled that there is a significant and growing number of African migrants living and working in Qatar. Also, in the wake of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, migrant inflow to Qatar significantly increased,” he said and added that the union will encourage the workers who want to opt for Qatar as a workplace.
The delegation also visited and interacted with migrant workers, especially those from Africa and obtained first-hand information about their working conditions. “The Afghan evacuation is a strong show of solidarity and pragmatic demonstration of Qatar’s commitment to our shared humanity,” he said.
The ITUC-Africa official said there are certain challenges when it comes to implementing the reforms and said there is still room for improvement as the efforts are work in progress.
ITUC president Ayuba Wabba said that certain recommendations have been given to the Qatar government and the organisation will continue to work with Qatar in order to achieve improvement in work culture. Botswana Federation of Trade Unions president Martha Molema and Secretary-General of Central Organisation of Trade Unions, Kenya, Francis Atwoli were also present.