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A file photo of labourers at the construction site at the al-Wakrah Stadium. Photo: AFP
A file photo of labourers at the construction site at the al-Wakrah Stadium. Photo: AFP

World Cup host Qatar among the worst places to work

The country was ranked among the worst violators of workers rights by International Trade Union Confederation

Doha: Qatar, which pledged to improve labour safety standards as 2022 World Cup construction projects get under way, was ranked among the worst violators of workers rights in a report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The Persian Gulf country was given the lowest score of five, which places it among the worst countries in the world to work in, the ITUC, a group representing trade unions around the world, said in its 2014 Global Rights Index.

Authorities said last week that Qatar will amend labour laws after the death of dozens of immigrant workers on construction projects drew a storm of criticism from human rights and labour groups. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, is expected to rely mostly on migrant labour from countries such as Nepal and India to build $200 billion of roads, stadiums, a subway system and other projects before it hosts the most-watched sporting event.

In a category-five country, “while the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labor practices," the ITUC said.

UK newspaper The Guardian reported in September that 44 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar between 4 June and 8 August amid appalling labour abuses. The Nepali embassy later said 53 Nepalis had died.

Amnesty International said in a November report that workers in Qatar often weren’t paid wages, were subject to harsh and dangerous working conditions and shocking standards of accommodation. The group documented the cases of dozens of workers who were prevented from leaving the country for many months by their employers.

The ITUC also gave a score of five to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain received a score of four, a country with “systematic violations". It ranked countries including Uruguay, South Africa and France among the best for worker protections. Bloomberg

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