Amnesty: Qatar failing to deliver on labour reforms

Qatar is failing to deliver on reforms for its migrant workers a year after the wealthy Gulf nation announced plans to improve conditions for low-paid labourers building its highways, hotels, stadiums and skyscrapers, Amnesty International has said.

In a new briefing paper, the London-based rights group criticised the 2022 World Cup host for making no substantive changes on some labour issues, and delivering only partial progress in other areas.

The report was released a day after three major World Cup sponsors — Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa — publicly pressured football’s world governing body Fifa to push Qatar to do more to improve labour conditions.

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Qatar is being transformed by a building boom fuelled by its vast oil and natural gas wealth. Like other energy-rich Gulf nations, it relies on well over a million guest workers, many drawn from South Asian nations including India and Nepal.

Qatar said it disagrees with some of the claims and asserted it has made “significant changes” to improve working conditions.

The government believes promoting human rights for guest workers and others is a “strategic choice and the backbone of the comprehensive constitutional, economic, social and cultural reform policy” of the country, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said.

It cited changes including efforts to boost the number of labour inspectors, provide better housing for workers and crack down on employers and labour recruiters who break the law.

Amnesty says the reforms are not coming fast enough.

“We’ve had a year, and not much has changed. For us that’s a really important thing,” Amnesty’s Gulf migrant rights researcher Mustafa Qadri said. “The situation has probably gotten worse because you have more workers now... There’s a matter of urgency.”

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Wesley O’ Regan is the General Manager of Popscene in Voodoo Rooms, Cork city. Popscene opened last November and is Cork’s only themed bar that is dedicated to celebrating the best of the 80s and 90s. https://www.facebook.com/PopsceneCork/You've Been Served: Wesley O'Regan, Popscene

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