Qatar abuses continue: rerun the vote on World Cup venue
Ahead of a key meeting of FIFA’s global executive this week, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has published a new report, The Case Against Qatar, showing how workers’ rights are abused in Qatar where FIFA plans to hold the 2022 World Cup. Together with the TUC, global unions say that FIFA has the power to put conditions on the 2022 World Cup organisers and require changes which could make a real difference to the lives of thousands of migrant workers, or rerun the vote about where the 2022 World Cup will be held.
The ITUC has called on both FIFA and the Qatar authorities to end the kafala system (the sponsorship system which means that migrant workers are effectively owned by their employers and need an exit permit from them before they can leave the country); allow workers in the country to join unions and be given a collective voice through freedom of association; and employ ethical recruitment companies and pay World Cup workers decent rates of pay.
The FIFA Executive Committee were given a mandate to investigate labour rights problems in Qatar, after the ITUC estimated 4,000 workers could die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup. FIFA leaders will discuss the issue of migrant workers in Qatar, and initiatives that FIFA could take at its Executive Committee meeting on 20 – 21 March.
The latest report on conditions in Qatar echoes past union findings and research by human rights bodies like Amnesty, Anti-Slavery International and Human Rights Watch. The ITUC found salty water being provided to workers in camps for cooking and washing; employers demanding deposits of US$275 are paid by workers before they are allowed to return home on leave; over 2500 Indonesian maids a year fleeing from abusive sponsors; and World Cup workers in squalid sleeping accommodation at the Al Wakrah Stadium (the Qatari authorities have responded by saying that they will soon be rehoused, a weak response at best.) And this is on top of the 900 workers who have already died constructing facilities for the 2022 World Cup.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady responded to the ITUC report by saying:
“Working conditions are so bad in Qatar that on average one construction worker is dying out there every day. FIFA should no longer be listening to the assurances of the authorities that all is well with the World Cup workforce in Qatar. Its executives need to look at the evidence in the ITUC report and they will see that ill-treatment and squalor is widespread. If the organisers of the 2022 World Cup show no sign of acting to improve the lot of its thousands of migrant workers, then FIFA must consider a re-run of the vote and moving the tournament elsewhere in the world.”