* Qatar 2022 contributes to expediting pace of labour legislation
* 'Boycotting Qatar is hypocrisy. Qatar has made enormous progress in terms of labour and human rights'
* 'Qatar is now a shining example of protection of workers'
The Ministry of Labour (MoL) has issued a report, titled 'They said about Qatar's reforms', highlighting the praise earned internationally by Qatar's labour reforms from various entities and individuals, who look forward to sustained progress in this field beyond the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The report "monitored the most important international positions and praise issued by union and labour figures on the legislative reforms issued and implemented by Qatar, which resulted in tangible, positive changes in the work environment in Qatar. International organisations call for the generalisation of the Qatari experience in the region to protect workers' rights", the MoL said in a press statement.
HE Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, Minister of Labour, said in a speech during a symposium organised by the ministry on the sidelines of the 110th session of the International Labour Conference 2022, held in Geneva, that Qatar adopted a sustainable approach to developing and updating legislation and laws and improving the work environment, stressing that improvements to the work environment came within Qatar National Vision 2030, while the organisation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 contributed to expediting the pace of labour legislation.
He noted Qatar has hosted, over the past years, hundreds of delegations from international labour organisations to see the labour environment in it, praising the role played by these delegations in conveying the truth to the world.
* Gilbert F Houngbo, director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), said: “Qatar has made big progress (abolishment of the kafala system, introduction of minimum wages, heat protection measures, etc) in a relatively short time. It needs to be said as we don't see that often. Recognising progress does not mean that the job is done. Now we need a period of consolidation during which institutions in charge of the implementation and inspection need to be developed. Both Qatar and the ILO are willing to continue working beyond the FIFA World Cup. The improvement that we have seen in Qatar is unique in the region.”
He also tweeted that it was "good to speak to FIFA President Gianni Infantino about the ILO's work with the government, employers and workers in Qatar to deliver significant labour reforms. There’s real progress and I look forward to working with all partners on continued improvements well beyond the World Cup.”
* In early November, the ILO issued a progress report on the 'Technical Co-operation Programme between the Government of Qatar and ILO', in which it said: “Following the commitment of the Government of Qatar to continue building on the significant reforms undertaken in the first phase of the technical co-operation programme, and a series of exchanges with other national and international partners, a second phase of the programme was agreed to run from July 2021 to December 2023.”
“In February and March 2022, delegations from ITUC-Africa and ITUC-Asia Pacific were received in Qatar. The delegations represented a mix of national, sectoral and sub-regional trade unions. They also met with government officials, workers and management representatives, community liaison officers from GUFs; and visited shared accommodation, government offices and Red Crescent Society clinics,” it noted.
The Ministry of Labour and ILO has continued to conduct campaigns throughout 2022 to raise awareness of occupational injury prevention among workers and employers. Work is underway to establish a national system for reporting and learning about healthcare incidents in Qatar. This central platform will be a major step forward in the systematic and timely collection of data on occupational injuries and diseases for all workers in Qatar.
On the other hand, in light of the influx of temporary workers and the increased activity during the World Cup, the MoL and ILO - in co-ordination with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and others - are taking measures to ensure compliance with the Qatari law. Dedicated labour inspection campaigns will be held in November and December, it added.
When the minimum wage law came into force in March 2021, more than 280,000 workers or approximately 13% of the total workforce in the private sector saw their basic wage increase to the minimum threshold. Overall, 86% of the workers interviewed said the reforms have had a positive impact on workers’ lives. In the survey conducted in mid-2022, 98% of respondents reported receiving their wages on time," the ILO report said.
* Speaking on the issue, FIFA President Gianni Infantino tweeted: “We have made significant progress in recent years through our collaboration on the conditions of workers in Qatar, and I am looking forward to more co-operation between our institutions on a global scale. Having spoken to HE the Labour Minister of Qatar, Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, I am confident that we (ILO, Qatar and FIFA) can make further progress.”
* Margaritis Schinas, vice-president of the European Commission, said: “Tangible progress on a number of issues, including labour reform. Looking forward to sustained progress ahead of the FIFA World Cup and co-operation in other areas such as skills development in the context of the 2023 European Year for Skills.”
* Marc Tarabella, co-chair of the EU Parliament's Bureau of the Sports Group, said: “Boycotting Qatar is hypocrisy. Qatar has made enormous progress in terms of labour and human rights, largely spurred by the World Cup. The system can obviously be improved, there are still challenges, we need to help them complete what has been initiated.
"The 6,500 figure given by 'The Guardian' has been greatly overestimated, as we know. If comparing Qatar's occupational death rate to that of France, I repeat: Qatar has come far. All this progress must not be swept away by a public opinion that is waking up today; those who boycott, they obviously did not follow the file. Showing up one month before the (World) Cup is hypocrisy and/or ignorance.”
"What’s the point of making efforts if they are, in the end, underestimated? For Qatar, this Cup is not a goal in itself but a stage," he continued. "The improvement of human rights could extend to Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen. To refuse to watch the event is also to miss out on a unifying party. Abandoning giant screens, public broadcasts is really stupid. The World Cup is a celebration that must be experienced together. I encourage people to follow.”
* Maria Arena, chair of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights, said; "Since 2018, many reforms have been adopted with the impetus of the Qatar National Human Rights Committee and the action of the Minister of Labour, HE Dr Ali Al Marri. These include the abolition of the kafala system, workers' mobility, introduction of the minimum wage, workplace health and safety mechanisms, creation of a social fund, establishment of collective bargaining arrangements, and more. These reforms are important, but they need to be correctly implemented, evaluated and followed up, which is why we welcome the International Labour Organisation's engagement as a partner in implementing these reforms.”
* The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’s report, titled '2021 annual report on human rights and democracy in the world', noted: "The Qatari National Human Rights Committee has established regular interaction with EU institutions and Qatar invited the EUSR for Human Rights to visit the country." It considered the dismantling of the sponsorship/kafala system a positive step in labour laws reforms. "In 2021, Qatar launched robust labour reforms, notably the dismantling of the sponsorship/kafala system, and introduced a minimum wage for all workers. With these new reforms, Qatar is the first country in the Arab Gulf region to allow all migrant workers to change jobs before the end of their contracts without first obtaining their employers' consent."
* Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said: “The relationship between the organisation (ITUC) and the Doha authorities has gone from 'worst enemies' to 'valuable friends' in a 10-year turnaround. The claims that more than 6,000 workers have died on construction sites in Qatar since work on the World Cup began are a myth. I can honestly say that my advice to fans is to go to the World Cup and have fun.”
* Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) said in a tweet, "The BWI is proud of the major achievements in promoting the rights of migrant workers in Qatar, especially in the context of the World Cup. While more needs to be done, we will build on our victories."
Dietmar Schafers, BWI deputy president, added: “BWI has been able to make significant improvements to the situation of migrant workers in Qatar. The joint inspection on World Cup construction sites have helped prevent accidents and the labour reforms will have a lasting legacy beyond the World Cup. Migrant workers are treated now with more respect and their contribution recognised.”
* Luca Visentini, secretary-general of the European Trade Union Confederation, noted: “More work needs to be done on implementation of reforms, but Qatar should be seen as a success story. The football World Cup was undoubtedly an opportunity to accelerate change, and these reforms can constitute a good example to be extended to all other countries that in the future will host major sport events. We welcome the efforts made so far, which must be sustained to prepare Qatar's economy and society for future challenges and to ensure that the quality of working conditions receives the long-term investment it needs.
"The ongoing reform process can also be of great help and a possible point of reference for other countries in the region.”
* Roberto Suarez Santos, secretary-general of the International Organisation of Employers, highlighted: “Qatar has been working during
the past years to open more dialogue prospects with international organisations and international partners, which help strengthen mutual confidence. We have witnessed various brainstorming meetings devoted to optimising the business environment in Qatar, and this ultimately took place. Qatar has managed to make great accomplishments in partnership with all, particularly at the level of governments,
employers and workers, considering what happened in Qatar is a triumph for these parties.
"It was a journey of 10 years, but at the end was a successful story where the business community, together with the Government of Qatar and workers, have managed to have a different situation. I thank the Government of Qatar for the courage that has demonstrated during this long journey and the commitment it sought with the business community.”
* ITUC-Asia issued a press statement on March 15 titled 'ITUC-Asia Pacific Mission to Qatar: Major advances in labour reform set a solid platform for worker protection beyond 2022', in which it said: "The mission welcomes the significant advances in the remuneration and working conditions of migrant workers in Qatar and complements the government for its continued commitment. Qatar is by far the regional leader in terms of workers' participation and social dialogue, labour mobility, labour law and international co-operation and
* The Federation of African Journalists sent a letter to HE the Minister of Labour about the successful conclusion of preparations for the
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, in which it wrote: “The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), a pan-African organisation representing journalists on the African continent, takes this opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate Qatar for successfully completing the mammoth task of preparations and physical construction for hosting the World Cup, which starts in a few weeks’ time. We are particularly happy with the proactive collaboration between Qatar, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Labour Organisation and the Federation of African Journalists, among others, to address and resolve the initial concerns about labour rights.
"As a result of its openness and the Federation of African Journalists' willingness to constructively respond to concerns, Qatar is now a shining example of protection of workers, particularly migrant workers, within the Gulf Co-operation Council countries. As a continental federation, we are happy that our decision to stand by Qatar, and mobilise the African media during this biased campaign against Qatar, has been vindicated by the results, which show that dialogue is always better than confrontation.
"As you prepare to launch the games, FAJ and its entire leadership as well as member unions across Africa wish Qatar and its visitors a most successful tournament and looks forward to continued co-operation on matters of mutual interest.”
* The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), on September 15, sent a letter to HE the Minister of Labour, saying: “We have equally noted the mission which ITUC-Africa undertook in Qatar and in which African trade union leaders, including representatives from the Horn of Africa region, expressed their satisfaction of the progress achieved in the Qatari labour sector, in particular, the enhanced protection and freedoms enjoyed by migrant workers in Qatar, including migrant workers from the Horn of Africa countries.”
The ILO office in Qatar responded to the positions of these unions and international federations, on labour reforms in Qatar, through its account on Twitter, saying: "Engagement with unions from all over the world was a major part of labour reforms in Qatar. We will hold our semi-annual meeting with trade unions and the Ministry of Labour to assess the status of reforms and identify new priorities."
In conclusion, the Ministry of Labour said: "It is clear that these positions issued by these unions and international non-governmental organisations and federations indicate, beyond any doubt, the size of the reforms in the Qatari work environment, and the Qatari efforts that have been made over the past years in this regard, which is strong evidence. However, the campaigns led by some against Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup are malicious and baseless campaigns
aimed at distorting these great achievements, which were made in a few years in an unprecedented way, a challenge in which Qatar has undoubtedly succeeded."