Qatar - No trade union rights for 94% of the working population (2012)

In its bid to host the World Cup, Qatar embarked on a project to build nine new stadiums and renovating three more, in just ten years. A task that would be impossible to achieve without the support of migrant workers, as only 6% of the working population is Qatari. It is estimated that about one million new migrant workers will have to be recruited. They will join ranks with the 1.2 million migrant workers already living in Qatar (most from Pakistan, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), 506,000 of whom work in the construction industry.

Very many of these migrant workers suffer severe exploitation: very low wages (often less than they were promised before they left home), delayed or unpaid wages, extreme occupational health and safety risks, confiscated passports, appalling housing conditions, etc. The authorities have announced projects to improve their situation, including stricter laws to avoid the late payment of wages or the exploitative practices of the recruitment agencies. It is unlikely however that they will be prepared to abolish the laws banning migrant workers from enjoying the freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. The law allows for the formation of “workers committees” in enterprises that employ at least 100 Qataris, but migrants do not have the right to join.

On 17 November the ITUC, the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) and the Swiss trade union “Unia” handed over a letter to the President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, informing him that unless Qatar upholds labour rights, the international trade union movement will campaign against the 2022 World Cup being held there.

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