• David Sharp
  • 3 December 2015

Qatar shamed by inaction on migrant workers

Labour exploitation remains rampant in Qatar as the authorities fail to deliver significant reforms, Amnesty International claims on the fifth anniversary of Qatar winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Despite massive public exposure of the appalling conditions faced by most migrant construction workers, the Qatari authorities have done almost nothing effective to end chronic labour exploitation according to the campaigning organisation.

Amnesty International has carried out five research missions to Qatar in the past four years to investigate the condition of the migrant worker population, expected to reach two million within the next two years. An Amnesty report in May this year identified nine fundamental migrant labour rights issues.

According to Amnesty, Qatar has seriously failed to address some of these key issues, including:

  • Paying wages on time: A wage protection system that requires businesses to pay workers on time by direct bank deposits was signed into law in February but only came into force in November. Late payment of wages is a widespread problem that leaves migrant workers and their families back home in desperate situations.
  • Commitment to expanding the labour inspector force to 400 by the end of 2015: postponed until the end of 2016.
  • Reform of the restrictive kafala sponsorship system central to the problems faced by migrant workers: limited changes were promised in May last year but only introduced in October this year, and won’t enter into force until the end of 2016. The new system will still require workers to seek their employer’s consent to change jobs or leave the country.