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Qatar Charter Totally Inadequate

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Qatar 2022 World Cup Charter “Totally Inadequate” So FIFA Must Demand Qatar Makes Real Changes And Allows Workers Proper Representation Says GMB

European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights must state that if Qatar does not change laws that deny workers their fundamental rights that FIFA should show them the red card for 2022 says GMB.

GMB is calling on the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights hearing on migrant workers in Qatar, which takes place in Brussels on 13th Feb 2014, to make clear that the Qatar welfare charter, made public today, is totally inadequate and falls far short of what is required. See notes to editors for programme for the hearing.

GMB is asking the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights to make clear that if Qatar does not change laws that deny workers their fundamental rights that FIFA should show them the red card as far as 2022 is concerned.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in Qatar will present the welfare charter to FIFA tomorrow (12 February 2014) as a blue print for the improvement of working conditions in Qatar.

FIFA will discuss the charter at the European Parliament hearing on 13th Feb. Dr Theo Zwanziger from FIFA is one of the speakers at the hearing.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, who led a delegation to Qatar that included GMB, is also speaking at the hearing.

GMB is in contact with Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke, Interserve, Kier Group, Vinci, Galliford Try (Qatar), ISG Middle East, Amey, Mace, Bouygues UK, BAM and Costain to seek their support for improving working conditions in Qatar.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation in a statement today, said  “Qatar’s new World Cup worker welfare standards do not deliver fundamental rights for workers  and merely reinforce the discredited kafala system of employer control over workers.

Forced labour continues in Qatar today with no workers’ rights. No migrant worker can be protected by any safety standard unless they have the right to collectively speak out about wages and conditions at work.

The kafala visa sponsorship system ties workers to their employers, as they cannot leave the country or move to another employer without permission.  Qatari law denies migrant workers the right to form or join trade unions.

Not a single change has been made or recommended to Qatar’s laws that deny workers their fundamental rights. No workplace voice or representative is allowed for migrant workers in Qatar. A worker welfare officer appointed by the employer is no substitute for a duly nominated worker representative.

The promise to provide freedom of movement for workers is a sham, as Qatar enforces segregation of workers on a racial basis.

These standards are built on an old, discredited self-monitoring system which has failed in the past in Bangladesh and other countries where thousands of workers have died.

With no legal compliance mechanism such as a tribunal, there is no possibility of enforcing even these provisions.

The Supreme Committee Welfare Charter:

  • Foresees the use of illiterate workers who can use a thumb print to sign documents;
  • Provides one social worker for 3500 employees, who is able to spend at most 41 seconds per week dealing with each worker;
  • Sets up a telephone hot line for worker complaints with no detail of who will answer the phones, or the process as to how grievances will be handled. The existing hotline has been a complete failure;
  • Would mean labour camps with a total area of  8 million square meters  are needed for the 500,000 extra workers that Qatar says will be required to build the World Cup;
  • Fails to set up a system to record deaths of workers or to ensure autopsies;
  • Recommends recruitment agencies approved by the Ministry of Labour, who routinely charge fees despite laws that prohibit these practices;
  • Has no reference to ‘heat’ in regard to working conditions in a  country where workers toil in up to 50 degrees for half the year;
  • Indicates no intention to prosecute contractors for breaches; instead workers are simply sent home to their country;
  • Only applies to a limited number of workers in Qatar.

If FIFA are serious about Qatar continuing to host the World Cup in 2022, they will demand freedom of association such that workers can be represented by those they choose.

They will demand immediate steps to end kafala, immediate steps to give workers the rights to negotiate wages and conditions and set up effective legal compliance through a tribunal system for complaints.

This charter is a sham for workers. It promises health and safety but provides no credible enforcement. It promises employment standards but gives migrant workers no rights to collectively bargain or join a trade union. It promises equality but does not provide a guarantee of a minimum wage. 

Unlawful practices will only continue with these provisions, which reinforce a system of forced labour with kafala. Qatar’s announcement is reaction to public pressure, but it won’t take the pressure off workers.

Similar provisions announced by the Qatar Foundation nearly a year ago have made no difference. The death toll of workers in Qatar has increased. Qatar has to change its laws, nothing else will do,”


Contact:  GMB Kathleen Walker Shaw 07841 181 549 or Bert Schouwenburg 07974 251 764 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823 or ITUC Media Contact  Gemma Swart +32 479 06 41 63

Notes to editors

1 Programme for meeting

European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights

Hearing on sport and human rights - focussing on the situation of migrant workers in Qatar

Thursday, 13 February 2014

09h00 – 10h30

Room:  ASP A3E2


Chaired by Barbara Lochbihler, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights

Draft Programme

Introductory remarks

Ms Barbara Lochbihler, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights

Guest speakers

Dr Theo Zwanziger, Member of the FIFA Executive Committee

Mr Gilbert Houngbo, Deputy Director General of the ILO

Ms Sharan Burrow, Secretary General of ITUC-CSI

Mr Jonas Baer-Hoffman, FIFPro World Players’ Union, Division Europe

Mr James Lynch, Researcher, Amnesty International

Representatives of the EEAS and European Commission [names TBC]


Concluding remarks

Ms Barbara Lochbihler, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights

2 Role of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights. from their website.

Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament was reconstituted in 2004 and has become an important European platform for the defence of human rights worldwide.

The Subcommittee, also called DROI, organises hearings and discussions on all sorts of human rights issues. As a consequence of these debates, we adopt reports and resolutions, thus contributing to the international debate on subjects such as the death penalty, torture or the fight against impunity. Also, we try to react to human rights violations around the world as swiftly as possible by giving a voice to the most affected.

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