Setting the standards for workers’ rights

Setting the standards for workers’ rights

Doha organised compensation of $24 million (QAR 86.6 million) for workers and hotel staff who were charged unauthorised recruitment fees to be a part of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) implemented what was dubbed the Universal Reimbursement Programme, FIFA said as part of a post-World Cup report, through which over 49,000 employees were reimbursed by 266 contractors.

The Committee transferred the burden of evidence to contractors and Owners and Contractors Protectives (OCP) to demonstrate that workers had been hired ethically under the programme.

In a statement, FIFA announced that the payment of recruitment fees is illegal under international law and Qatari law and “is a global issue affecting millions of migrant workers worldwide”.

Touting Qatar’s efforts and reforms as an example to be followed globally, both FIFA and the ILO (International Labour Organisation) suggest these reforms be emulated in the region and beyond and credited the tournament as a stimulus for modernising Qatari laws and society.

The SC’s three-tier grievance procedure strengthened workers’ voices and provided secure spaces where they could seek redress, including workers’ welfare forums that let employees voice complaints to elected officials, with 113 forums representing 23,500 workers held at their busiest.

Official statistics show that Doha’s anonymous complaint hotline available for employees 24/7 in 11 different languages, received some 2,441 cases of which 89.6% were successfully resolved.

In the lead up to the World Cup, Qatar faced heavy scrutiny on its human rights record, with particular focus on migrant workers in the Gulf state despite Doha repeatedly pointing to its introduction of major reforms over the years, most notably the dismantling of the controversial kafala, or sponsorship, system.

However, scrutiny continued throughout the World Cup, with western media largely disregarding key labour reforms in the country.

Responding to Amnesty International in May, organisers pointed to “significant improvements … across accommodation standards, health and safety regulations, grievance mechanisms, healthcare provision, and reimbursements of illegal recruitment fees to workers.”

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