Qatar hits back at Amnesty over labour reforms
Qatar yesterday hit back at Amnesty International for accusing it of failing to deliver on reforms for migrant workers and said significant changes have been made to improve working conditions.
A majority of workers coming to Qatar earn considerably more than they would at home, said the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
One benchmark of increasing migrant workers' earning capacity is that they collectively remitted about $12bn home in 2014, Qatar News Agency (QNA) quoted the ministry as saying.
"For those who suffer poor treatment, the ministry works to ensure they receive all support they need to improve their situation and action is taken against any company that mistreats workers," said the ministry.
In fact, Qatar aims to be a regional leader, driving change and improvement of standards in the region, the ministerial statement added.
The ministry also talked of the Wage Protection System whereby all low-income workers are to be paid salaries through banking channels.
The ministry said it has also strengthened the capacity of labour inspectors who total 294 and their number is likely to reach 400 by year-end.
Last year, 51,000 inspections were conducted on companies and labour camps using the GPS and appropriate technology has been provided to ensure inspection reports are instantly filed electronically.
The ministry said it continues to clamp down on companies and manpower agencies and penalise them for breaking Qatari laws.
Manpower agencies outside Qatar exploiting workers in violation of the country's laws have been banned from recruiting for companies or manpower agencies in Qatar.
New accommodations of global standards for over a million workers are being built across the country, the statement added.
The ministry said it has installed an electronic complaint-filing system for workers in seven languages and complaints reach authorities instantly.
"Any complaints from Nepalese workers unable to return home to rejoin their families (in the aftermath of the recent earthquake) would be treated with utmost urgency," the ministry assured.
It said it has always welcomed and has been open to viewpoints and ideas. "No one should be in any doubt that we are committed to bringing about effective and sustainable change."
The ministry said it will continue to work closely with NGOs, international organisations and the business community to deliver on the commitment.
QNA added that Qatar affirmed its belief that the promotion and protection of human rights, which include expatriate workers' rights, is a strategic choice and the backbone of the comprehensive constitutional, economic, social and cultural reform policy of the state.
Talking about Amnesty's latest report, the labour ministry said that although it lauded the report, it disagreed with a number of its claims.
The Amnesty report said that a year after Qatar announced plans to improve conditions for low-paid workers engaged in development projects, the country had failed to deliver on reforms.
In a new briefing paper, the rights group criticised Qatar for making no substantive changes on some labour issues, including the sponsorship and exit permit systems, and delivering only partial progress in other areas.
The report was released a day after three major World Cup sponsors pressured FIFA to urge Qatar to do more to improve labour conditions, media reports suggested.
In its paper, Amnesty called Qatar's proposed changes to the sponsorship and exit permit rules inadequate, and noted that none of those reforms had yet been implemented.
The Associated Press said in a report quoting the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, H E Dr Abdullah bin Saleh Mubarak Al Khulaifi, as telling it earlier this month that the reform legislation was under review by the Shura Council and that he could not provide a time frame for the law to be implemented, but he hoped it would come into effect by the end of the year. [The Peninsula]
Photo by Mohammed Noorudeen
Acchabaccha: Valid point. But then I have also met many incompetent non Westerners who have worked Here for years.
The issue of amnesty is regarding forced labour and non payment of benefits
Brit: I agree with LLR. While in the West, one cannot get away with discrimination, the rules are forgotten and overlooked as making is this into an issue in the Middle East, will directly affect the westerners who themselves set forth the rules of discrimination. That is possibly why Amnesty turns a blind eye on this issue. I know how I felt when a westerner came in as my boss and knew little about the job, received a hefty salary just because he had the "right" nationality. I did all the tough and dirty work. He took home the fat pay check. He could not get past the one-year contract.
LLR: nothing to do with Ambesty. It's your choice whether or not to accept the contract you are given
Was just curious to know, why not amnesty ever talked about the wage differences based on nationality please..
Qatar doesn't need to take Amnesty seriously. Blatter can be bought. So, what?
I believe that are many work-force issues that could be solved through just a telephone call or even an email from someone in authority. When employers get a telephone call or an email from such an authority over an issue, they would realize that things were getting difficult for them as the government was now aware. Many such inhuman employers would have second thoughts over their cruel acts that they now carry out with impunity. If the government sets up offices at several locations in the city which would work in the evening hours, it would allow the work-force to file their cases of injustice or inhuman treatment easily. The work-force could be given protection through rules by not allowing employers the power to retaliate in such an cases. As of present, people approach the Human Rights Committee or the Labor Office only when the water has gone over the head, when things become unbearable for them, when they want to just quit, and when they are unafraid of retaliation from their sponsors. There could be middle-road that could be worked out. It is just a simple suggestion to improve working conditions, help the workers, pour a bucket of ice-cold water over Amnesty International's attacks, and better the image of Qatar which is under attacks off and on from international agencies ever since it won the rights to hold Word Cup 2022.
Pls Sir just remove 2years ban, as saudi remived, do not need more. Plz.......
Promising little, delivering less. An article by David Harding
and holding expatriates as slaves under Qatar's sponsorship system is a breach of basic human rights...
I think Govt/Labour ministry should look after all the workers/officials/expatriate interest. specially so many private company make bound to work 10 to 12 hour s daily without paying O/T , which is breech of contract , and workers can't move to such kind of complaint as there is so many problem arise. Ramadan is nearby by issuing circular into news paper ministry should inform private sector office timing during Ramadan.
I saw a group of about 5 laborers in blue uniforms in the scorching heat doing construction and it was 130pm 115 degrees outside, somethings not being done.
Now that Amnesty has managed to engage them in verbal battles things would change SOON...... :)
"... he could not provide a time frame for the law to be implemented, but he hoped it would come into effect by the end of the year." Of course, he can't. So, why is he mentioning the changes at all if they don't happen?