The International Labour Organization (ILO) has dropped its investigation into Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers — many of whom are working to build facilities for the upcoming 2022 World Cup. The decision follows Qatar’s promises of reform, including changes that would allow workers freedom to leave the country and change jobs without their employer’s permission and establish a minimum wage without discrimination and a fund to guarantee unpaid wages.
Thomson Reuters Foundation explains:
Human rights groups, long critical of Qatar’s treatment of its mostly Asian foreign workers, welcomed the agreement but said Doha must now follow up its pledges with firm action.
“Around 2 million workers in all kinds of sectors will now enjoy better protection, including a dispute settlement system, also accessible for the extremely vulnerable domestic workers,” Luc Cortebeeck, chair of the ILO governing body, told reporters.
Qatar’s labor minister, Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, promised the ILO that the country would strive to provide decent working conditions for domestic and migrant workers. He added that Doha looks forward to a 3-year technical assistance project in cooperation with the ILO.
Amnesty International stressed that promises must be met with real action. “If Qatar wants to show it is serious about its promises of reform, it should urgently confirm the unambiguous cancellation of the exit permit so that all migrant workers will be able to return home without needing their employers’ permission,” said Fabien Goa, Gulf Migrants Specialist at Amnesty International.
Still, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) sees this as progress and a model that other Gulf states should follow. “Qatar has set a new standard for the Gulf States (that) must be followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where millions of migrant workers are trapped in modern slavery,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of ITUC.
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