Post-World Cup, wage theft still a problem in Qatar -

Post-World Cup, wage theft still a problem in Qatar

  • Published on
    May 3, 2023
  • Written by:
    Miriam Karmali
  • Category:
    Forced Labor
Hero Banner

“The charade is over now. The spectacle is long done. But plenty of migrant workers remain in Qatar. And they are still suffering.” – Francis Nanseera, former migrant worker in Qatar

Francis Nanseera was deported from Qatar in January 2023 after spending nine months there, working as a delivery driver for Infinity Delivery Services, where he reportedly experienced wage theft. Nanseera is one of the thousands of migrant workers who worked tirelessly in Qatar as the country prepared to host the 2022 World Cup.

But under the glittering facade of the world’s largest sporting event, migrant worker exploitation was rampant and workers continue to report poor conditions today despite claims that the World Cup would bring lasting change on labor conditions in Qatar.

A grueling job

When Nanseera arrived in Qatar in April 2022, he was impressed with the advanced infrastructure and says he felt safe with the police. Over time, he grew disillusioned as he filed numerous complaints, but never received a single reply. 

His job started in the summer, when daytime temperatures in Doha are usually over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He would take on 12-hour shifts, leaving him dangerously dehydrated. 

Infinity treated Nanseera and other workers so negligently that if they fell sick, they had to beg for medication from others who had previously been in the hospital. Nanseera was also never paid.

He told openDemocracy:

I never saw a penny for the months I spent working in the service of Talabat. My contract said I would be paid 1800 Qatari rials a month, or about $500. After arriving in Qatar an account was opened for me that, I soon found out, I could neither control nor access. I received notifications that money was being transferred into that account, but without a way to get to it the money never became mine. This did not just happen to me. It was the same for a team of over 160 riders.

Like other riders, he survived on freebies and tips, and they collectively pooled funds. They usually had just one meal a day; sometimes, they had no meal at all. Only when FairSquare, a human rights organization, intervened did the situation improve. 

Being underpaid and dangerously malnourished caused Nanseera’s mental health to deteriorate. As he recalls: “I couldn’t afford to eat, let alone take care of my little girl or her recently widowed grandmother back home.”

A support system designed to fail

Nanseera filed a formal complaint with the Ministry of Labor. He never received back pay for what he was owed: as he recalls, “instead of being paid, I was treated as a criminal.” He was arrested and detained in January 2023, when he was deported.

Nanseera remembers the words of Hamza, a friend and colleague, who said that Qatari officials did not care about their health or their lives.

“Since the World Cup, Qatar has continued with a modern-day slave trade as the rest of the world looks on. They’ve announced a lot of changes, but that’s only to impress the world. Behind the façade of reform, workers are still chained to their employers with fake certificates and tied visas. Qatar is a safe place to visit – but not in which to work.”

Workers can be labeled ‘runaways’ if they try to escape their employer, and cannot change companies if mistreated. Many workers, including bus drivers during the World Cup, have likely still yet to be paid.

Sign the petition today calling on Qatar to effectively implement reforms to better protect workers from exploitation and abuse.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Migrant workers jailed in Qatar over demands for owed wages

Five months on from the World Cup final, migrant workers continue to report exploitative labor practices and mistreatment at the hands of Qatari authorities. Three former security guards have been jailed in Qatar for four months following their repeated requests for unpaid wages from their employer, Stark Security Services. Though lauded by FIFA as an opportunity to improve Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, workers who toiled to make the world’s

| Friday May 26, 2023

Read more