“Modern slavery will still exist in Qatar despite the announcement of cosmetic reforms to the labour law today.
The changes are designed to make it easier for employers to find migrant workers, but the announcement fails to address the multiple violations of international labour standards found by the International Labour Organisation in March.
The announcement was made by civil servants and the military, without a government minister present. It gives no guarantee for workers in Qatar.
No time frame or process associated with the reforms has been detailed.
Qatar’s notorious exit visas will remain in place, with the Interior Ministry now deciding who can leave the country. There is no indication on the fate of employees of government bodies who are being kept in Qatar against their will.
There is no freedom of association, no minimum wage, and no effective labour compliance system. None of the laws seem to apply to domestic workers.
No moves were announced to stop the death and injury toll amongst the migrant workforce.
While freedom of movement for workers should always be respected, with the removal of the ‘no objection certificate’, the employer still sets the contract, the wage, and employees cannot join a union and negotiate.
All these laws do is make it easier for employers to recruit staff as the World Cup infrastructure programme expands.
The government apparently said today that it agrees that migrant workers should be allowed to have unions. If that’s true, they should stop refusing to discuss this with the ITUC.”
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC
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