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Qatar World Cup Hearing In Brussels

Friday, February 7, 2014

FIFA To Report To European Parliament Sub Committee On Thursday 13th February On Working Conditions For 2022 World Cup In Qatar

Qatar’s 12th Feb report will need to provide evidence of major improvement in working conditions and if not the European Parliament will be compelled to recommend to FIFA that they show Qatar the red card for the 2022 World Cup says GMB.

GMB welcomes the decision of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights to hold a hearing focussing on the situation of migrant workers in Qatar in the run up to the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

The hearing will take place in the European Parliament building in Brussels at 9.00 am on 13th Feb 2014. See notes to editors for draft programme for this hearing and on the role of the Subcommittee.

On 30th January FIFA announced that the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in Qatar will provide FIFA by 12 February 2014 with a detailed report on the improvement of working conditions in Qatar.

FIFA said that this report will be used to prepare for this hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels. Dr Theo Zwanziger as the FIFA representative mandated to deal with this matter 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, will also be speaking at the hearing. See notes to editors 3 for copy of GMB press release after the delegation visit.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer, said “GMB applauds the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights for holding this timely hearing on sport and human rights, focusing on the situation of migrant workers in Qatar.

The hearing will be able to take stock of the report the Qatar authorities are due to present to FIFA the day before - on the 12th February 2014 - on the improvement of working conditions.

This report from Qatar is very important. FIFA has called for the improvements of core ILO standards and an end to the “Kafala” bonded labour system.

The ITUC estimates 4000 more workers will die before a ball is kicked in the World Cup, unless Qatar introduces reforms and meets international labour laws. We will learn on Thursday if Qatar Government has made the right choice.

A GMB officer took part in the trade union fact finding mission to Qatar organized to assess the situation regarding working conditions and concerns about discrimination. He was appalled by what he saw there.

MEPs and FIFA will need to be given robust evidence of a major improvement on a sustainable basis regarding human rights and industrial relations in Qatar. If not then we feel the European Parliament will be compelled to recommend to FIFA that they show Qatar the red card for the 2022 World Cup.”

End

Contact 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

Brussels

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]

Debate

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.

3 copy of GMB press release 2nd December 2013

A DISPOSABLE WORKFORCE TRAPPED IN QATAR - INTERNATIONAL UNION DELEGATION CONCLUDES FOUR DAY VISIT TO QATAR

The notorious "Kefala" system that turns exploitation into virtual slavery has to be abolished and the notion that a World Cup can be held in Qatar until this occurs is simply ludicrous says GMB member on the delegation

On the eve of the third anniversary of Qatar winning the controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup an international trade union delegation to the gulf state finds no improvement in living and working conditions of migrant workers.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC said international pressure is growing, governments, human rights organisations and FIFA have all called for fundamental workers’ rights and an end to the Kafala system.

The delegation will report back to Governments in Australia, Austria, Denmark and the UK as well as the International Labour Organisation, FIFA and the UN Human Rights Rapporteur.

During the four day visit the eleven member international delegation held worker hearings, and was shocked by the increasing numbers of women and children in detention centre and rising discontent and unrest of workers in squalid labour camps.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC said “This is an easy choice for the Qatari government; the perplexing question is why won’t they take it. Professional and poor workers alike tell the same stories; they came to Qatar with optimism and good will, only to face despair when their employer decides they are disposable and refuse to pay wages, sack them without benefits and or refused to sign their exit permit.

We have again offered support for change, but the Government must make a commitment to implement workers.

This week we welcomed the escape of Zahir Belounis from Qatar, but find that cases like Mahmoud Bouneb and his wife Malika Alouane who were similarly invited into the country only to be disposed of and left being owed benefits and not granted exit visit are numerous.

Their desperation is multiplied by when you visit the labour camps and hear the tales of terror from the poorest and most vulnerable workers forced to hit in squalor.

What we’ve seen his week can be summarized as how not to design a system for the global workforce on any basis:  human and labour rights; good will and international reputation or; productivity based on loyalty and efficiency

International companies should be on notice about the reputation risk of doing in business in Qatar without respect for workers’ rights.”

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International officer on the delegation in Qatar, said “Hundreds of thousands of workers from Nepal, India, Phillipines and Bangladesh are being treated little better than animals in Qatar.

GMB will be asking UK contractors to work with unions with a view to abolishing the notorious "Kefala" system that turns exploitation into virtual slavery. The notion that a World Cup can be held in Qatar while this occurs is simply ludicrous.

FIFA have called for the improvements of core ILO standards and an end to the Kafala system, they will report back in March 2014, we can only hope the Qatar Government will make the right choice.

The ITUC estimates 4000 more workers will die before a ball is kicked in the World Cup, unless Qatar introduces reforms and meets international labour laws.

ENDS

 

 

 

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