Qatar reiterates commitment to protect migrant workers amid COVID-19 crisis
Qatar has been pulling all the stops to ensure the rights of expatriates and migrant workers in the country.
In recent years, the country has strengthened its measures to safeguard the welfare of its workers and has been lauded by international labor bodies for its efforts in this regard.
The country has once again confirmed its commitment to protecting the dignity of expatriate workers and providing them with a decent work environment.
In light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Qatar has reiterated that protecting workers from the negative effects of the crisis remains among its top concerns.
This was highlighted during a remote meeting held between the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs, expatriate community leaders in Qatar, Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), and a number of international labor leaders to mark the International Workers Day.
The Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs affirmed Qatar's commitment in upholding the dignity of labor, based on the directives of HH the Amir to the government to ensure that decent work is upheld in the country. #QNA— Qatar News Agency (@QNAEnglish) May 4, 2020
Speaking on the occasion, the Ministry's Assistant Undersecretary Mohamed Hassan Al Obaidli said, "time and again, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has issued statements and directives to the government of Qatar to ensure that decent work is upheld in our country."
"Time and again, we expressed our deepest gratitude for the migrant workers who have helped and continue to help build our country. The government of Qatar is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure that workers are protected as much as possible from the ill-effects of this crisis," he added.
The official mentioned that the Ministry has issued guidelines on health and employment and has worked together with the relevant community leaders, groups, and labor organizations to educate workers on the crisis. It has been able to reach 300,000 workers so far.
Additionally, he said, the Ministry instituted alternative mechanisms for labor complaints, given the need for restriction in movements of people. It also intensified inspections and took legal action against violators of the standards under the relevant laws, he said.
"I am glad to inform you that in a letter sent by a group of international trade unions and civil society organizations to the government of Qatar, it was stated that they do recognize that Qatar exercises transparency regarding the management of the crisis and they do commend Qatar's approach in managing the crisis," Al Obaidli stated.
BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson stressed that "it's difficult time — we feel fear, uncertainty, thinking of our family back home. I want to assure you that the global unions — BWI, IDWF, ITUC, UNI, ITF are here for you. It' time for unity and global solidarity."
Recognizing the institutions in Qatar, Yuson said, "Ministry of labor and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy are doing their best to ensure your health and safety; to make sure your wages and benefits are paid."
The meeting also saw representatives of the Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and African communities share the experiences and initiatives of their respective community associations to address workers' needs amid the crisis.
The Head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Qatar project, Houtan Homayounpour, also joined the meeting.
Speaking during the event, Homayounpour said, "Despite the difficult circumstances, it is still very important for us to get together and celebrate International Labour Day. It's a tribute to all of you, for what you do."
Meanwhile, health authorities in Qatar continue to implement the highest level of monitoring, detection, and management procedures to deal with the virus, the public has been advised to follow certain measures to safeguard their health.
For any queries, or concerns related to COVID-19 in Qatar, the public can contact a 24/7 hotline set up by the Ministry. The hotline number is 16000 and is toll-free.
Here's everything you need to know about the virus, including ways to protect yourself.