NHRC study urges end to sponsorship
A study sponsored by the National Human Rights Committee recommends scrapping the sponsorship system and better wages and facilities for employees
A study on the working and living conditions of construction workers in Qatar has recommended exploring the possibility of scrapping the sponsorship system.
The findings of the study, sponsored by the National Human Rights Committee, were released at a press conference held at the NHRC headquarters yesterday.
The study team, led by Dr Kaltham Ali al-Ghanem, carried out a field survey and looked into the historical and social background of the construction workers.
Dr Ayashi Unsor, a specialist in social science and one of the team members, described the work as the first scientific research done in this area.
One of the aims of the study was to find out whether Qatar’s Labour Law and other legislations pertaining to labour, immigration and recruitment of foreign workers were compatible with the international labour law, agreements and conventions.
The team selected a random sample of the least paid of the unskilled construction workers as the subject of its research and analysis.
The recommendations also include increase in wages, improving safety conditions at work sites, ensuring that employers provide the workers with healthcare and suitable housing services, food, drinking water, toilets and places for taking rest, increasing the awareness of workers about their rights, and laws and official bodies they can resort to in time of need.
They also include taking into consideration the interests of both the employers and the employees when making changes to the laws or the sponsorship system.
The study said “the sponsorship system cancels some of the articles of the Labour Law, such as the freedom of changing jobs and the freedom of travel. The sponsorship system paves the way, for some people, to engage in human trafficking. There are some ‘gaps’ in the sponsorship system such as the right of the sponsor to deport the sponsored person without giving any reason, to unilaterally decide the wage and terminate the contract.”
It said “the deported workers may stay for long periods at detention centres without a trial and in most cases they are deported and lose their severance rights. Employers see the sponsorship system as a suitable mechanism for controlling expatriate workers.”
The study also said some employers feel the implementation of the Labour Law is detrimental to their interests.
The employers too face problems, it said, when workers in whom they have invested for their training and for bringing them from their home countries, abscond.
“Many workers are ignorant of their rights. They are not aware even of the existence of the work contract, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation by recruitment companies or abuse by employers,” the study said.
“The main problem faced by unskilled workers in the construction industry is the delay in getting wages. Most of workers do not know whom to turn to in case of disputes with the sponsor. There are differences in wages on the basis of nationalities. Nepalese workers are the least paid. The Labour Law is clear on the rights of the workers, but it exempts those who work as housemaids, house drivers, babysitters, gardeners and cooks, in addition to agricultural workers and shepherds.”
The study quoted some reports of the NHRC which dealt with difficulties faced by expatriate workers.
The report says: “Sometimes a sponsor fires a worker and refuses to give his salary. He may not get back his passport. Under the existing system he can’t work with another sponsor, or even to travel to his country. And if he tries to demand his rights, he may face detention for long periods and eventual deportation.”
The article is the best of the worthy topics i've ever read in QL.. :)
It is much awaited .. and being promised since long. Do you have an idea when it is going to be implemented..
This means we are inching closer to what could be termed as "Dawn of a new era" in this region. Can anyone analyze the pros and cons from a neutral perspective if sponsorship rules are revised as is suggested.