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New Era Of Transparency For The ILO And Qatar In Support Of Workers’ Rights

The ILO and Government of Qatar have published a new report on health and safety provisions for workers in Qatar demonstrating a new level of openness and transparency in support of workers’ rights.

The report is a new marker of progress since the introduction of a modern system of industrial relations in Qatar which includes:

  • A non-discriminatory minimum wage for all workers with 13% of workers in Qatar receiving a wage increase since March 2021. The Minimum Wage Commission will review an evidence-based increase for the minimum wage in 2022.
  • The end to the kafala system which abolished exit visas and gave 242,870 workers the freedom to change their job without their employer’s permission between 1 October 2020 and 31 October 2021.
  • The Labour courts resolving complaints with non-payment of wages and conditions from unscrupulous employers covered by a Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund
  • Domestic workers given a standard employment contract and receive pay slips from their employers.
  • Elected committees of workers resolve complaints at workplace level with Joint Committees elected in sectors including hospitality, construction, security, and transport.

“Social dialogue between workers, government and employers is the model that Qatar has followed to establish its labour law reforms. This gives workers the foundation to resolve complaints and sets the standard for industrial relations across the Gulf region. Qatar’s labour laws have passed the scrutiny test by international unions.

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One year ahead of the World Cup in Qatar employers are now being put to the test to follow the laws that protect workers’ rights in Qatar. Abuses of workers’ rights can now be resolved through dialogue with the Ministry of Labour or through the Labour Courts. There is nowhere for unscrupulous employers to hide.” said Sharan Burrow

Legislation to protect workers from heat stress in May 2021 which extended the prohibited working hours and the and the world’s largest study into heat stress conducted in 2019 has given a legislative and evidence base to health and safety provisions. The ILO’s analysis of work-related injuries in Qatar and the level of transparency offered by the Government is model by which other countries can be judged.

“No worker expects to go to work and not come home. The recognition of occupational health and safety rights for workers is a global scandal. In Qatar progress is being made, from the transparency of data which identifies risks for workers and practical recommendations from training of workers on risks to enforcement of penalties for non-compliance by employers. The culture being established in Qatar to openly report accidents underpins strong safety measures in the workplace,” said Burrow.

Qatar’s labour laws are embedded in national legislation. While workers are now given rights and protections, implementation, and scrutiny ahead of the World Cup will continue to test the laws as cases of abuses of workers’ rights are exposed.

“As workers continue to be recruited to work in Qatar, the use of illegal recruitment fees will not be tolerated. Employers should be put on notice that those who deny workers the provisions of the law and charge illegal recruitment fees will be prosecuted. The cultural of impunity where employers won’t acknowledge the new labour laws is coming to an end. Workers in Qatar have rights and protections in line with international standards and these are being upheld through the labour courts. Fear is being used to intimidate workers and discredit the labour laws negotiated with trade unions and the International Labour Organisation. The laws are in place, let’s use them to uphold workers’ rights and resolve grievances.” said Sharan Burrow.

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