Build Magazine July 2015

Build Magazine 25 Human Rights Watch published a similar report in 2014, ‘World Report 2014: Qatar’, in which they state that of the country’s 2 mil- lion population only 10% of these were Qatari nationals. The number of migrant workers in the country is expected to increase as the demand for workers also rose. This report alleges similar abuses by employ- ers in Qatar including a lack of time off and at times, abuse. The report also states that there are few legal barriers put in place by the government to limit this. The laws which are designed to support employees are allegedly openly flouted by employers, according to both reports. The Human Rights Watch report also alleges that the government’s work sponsorship system is a key problem for migrant workers. “Qatar’s Law 14 of 2004 regulating labor in the private sector limits work- ers’ hours requires that they receive paid annual leave, sets requirements on health and safety, and requires on-time payment of wages each month. However, the authorities fail to enforce this and other laws intended to protect workers’ rights. Workers typically pay exorbitant recruit- ment fees and employers regularly take control of their passports when they arrive in Qatar. The kafala (sponsorship) system ties a migrant worker’s legal residence to his or her employer, or sponsor. Migrant workers commonly complain that employers fail to pay their wages on time if at all, but are barred from changing jobs without their spon- soring employer’s consent other than in exceptional cases and with express per- mission of the Interior Ministry. Adding to their vulnerability, they must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor in order to leave Qatar. Migrant workers are prohibited from unionizing or engaging in strikes, although they make up 99 percent of the private sector workforce.” Ultimately, then, Qatar’s alleged death rate in the construction of the new sta- dium is largely due to their poor treatment of migrant workers, who, because of their poor living arrangements, are not in a fit state to work. The lack of time off and the poor pay, as well as the toll the poor conditions is taking on them, will all affect their health and leave them unfit for manual construction work. These problems need to be addressed urgently, in order for Qatar to have any hope of creating a construction industry which maintains its worker’s lives. Inside the Industry “The migrant workers building the Qatar stadium are treated as sub-human slaves not worthy of basic human needs. The staggering death totals of the workers building the Qatar stadium for the World Cup come from a lack of safety enforcement from the construction project managers and a lack of regulation on these construction companies by legal authorities for violating basic human rights. Water, food, shelter and rest are basic human needs. The migrant workers, like any one of our family members, deserve these basic human needs. Until gov- ernment and private construction companies decide to treat workers fairly under “The Golden Rule” and enforce basic human rights in the employer/employee relationship, we will continue to see these injury and death tolls rise. Government must write basic human rights for workers into law and most importantly enforce those laws. And when that doesn’t happen, it’s up to the public and media to shame government and private industry into righting their wrongs and tip the scales of justice back into balance”. - John Michael Montevideo