End Forced Labor in Qatar

ALERT: READ UPDATE

Bide Majakoti knows the horror of forced labor in Qatar first-hand. He travelled from Nepal on the promise of a well-paid job and paid high recruitment fees to secure it. When he arrived he was forced to accept a different job and his nightmare began.1

Unfortunately, as construction for the football World Cup 2022 intensifies, more migrant workers will be vulnerable to forced labor than ever before.

Over 90% of Qatar’s workforce are migrant workers, brought to the country under kafala, the ‘sponsorship’ system.2 It is a foreign worker sponsorship programme that jeopardises basic human rights of migrant workers, allowing slavery-like conditions to flourish leaving thousands vulnerable to forced labor and other human rights abuses.

Bide was forced to work in the blistering heat without safety precautions or pay. With no other option open to him, he returned home saddled with debt. While Bide ultimately returned home to tell his story, thousands of others never get that chance.

Many others’ experiences are even worse; workers often have their wages withheld, are denied exit visas, are housed in dirty, unsafe conditions and forced to work long hours with little rest despite the high heat.3

Right now we have an opportunity to help. The Minister of Labor made promises to make substantial reform to the kafala system, ensuring the protection of migrant workers.4 Now, the deadline for these reforms has passed.

We’ve seen significant improvements to the kafala system in Bahrain, Kuwait and other neighboring countries. Now it’s time for Qatar to safeguard its migrant workers.

Call on the Minister of Labor to deliver on critical reforms he promised and end the forced labor in Qatar.

Campaign updates

On 21 March, the ILO agreed to extend its monitoring of labor conditions in Qatar until November. In December 2016, a new labor law entered into force that, according to Qatar, abolished the kafala system and a 2017 amendment to the law is said to have officially ended the exit permit. The ITUC and Amnesty International, however, state that the law has not ended the kafala system. Workers still require approval from their employer if they want to change jobs throughout their contract. Workers must also obtain their employer’s permission if they want to leave the country.

CALL ON QATAR TO TAKE ACTION ON FORCED LABOR

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GOAL: 75K
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HE Dr Abdullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs

Your Excellency,

While I applaud you for your public commitment to reform the kafala system in Qatar, the reforms in October 2015 have not gone far enough.

I ask that you take further steps to end forced labor by:

1. Introducing and enforcing penalties on employers where the practice of contract substitution takes place, that forces workers to accept lower wages on arrival into Qatar.

2. Ensuring migrant workers’ passports are returned, and that workers hold their own passports and are given their worker IDs, through more effective enforcement and implementation of current laws targeting employers.

3. Removing impediments to workers leaving the country, and changing employers including any employer objections to exit visas.

Whilst these are important first steps in the fight to ensure basic worker rights, there is a need to go much further towards ending the abuse of migrant workers rights.

Thank you for your leadership on this issue and I look forward to hearing further announcements and details of reforms to end modern slavery in Qatar.

Sincerely,

ACT NOW

CALL ON QATAR TO TAKE ACTION ON FORCED LABOR

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Our partner in this campaign:

International Trade Union Confederation

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is the global voice of the world’s working people. The ITUC’s primary mission is the promotion and defence of workers’ rights and interests, through international cooperation between trade unions, global campaigning and advocacy within the major global institutions.

Its main areas of activity include: trade union and human rights; economy, society and the workplace; equality and non-discrimination; and international solidarity. The ITUC adheres to the principles of trade union democracy and independence. It is governed by four-yearly world congresses, a General Council and an Executive Bureau.

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