World Cup: ILO official discusses concerns for workers

As the FIFA Men’s World Cup kicked off in Qatar under criticism from human rights groups over its treatment of vulnerable workers, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said it still achieved significant progress has been made in this country.

The head of the Qatar office of the United Nations-funded organization spoke to CTV National News Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Omar Sachedina about questions and concerns surrounding migrant workers who are displaced. allegedly faced labor violations and poor working conditions when building Qatar’s stadiums for the World Cup.

Max Tunon told CTV National News that while there are still uncomfortable wage disparities for workers and problems in ensuring justice and compensation for victims, the government is committed to taking action. “in a positive way”.

He added that a Guardian investigation published in 2021 found that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar in the decade since the country won registration rights. World Cup host needs more “context”.

He said: “There is no distinction between (6,500) work-related deaths or non-work-related deaths.

Tunon said, according to the Supreme Committee on the World Cup, there have been three deaths on the spot and 37 deaths at the scene in Qatar related to the construction of the stadiums.

Human rights groups have been sounding the alarm about allegations of labor violations and poor working conditions since construction began.

A subsidiary of French construction company Vinci has also been brought forward with preliminary charges alleging forced labor and violations of the rights of migrant workers hired to build World’s infrastructure. Cup in Qatar.

Below is a partial transcript of the interview with Sachedina. Transcripts have been edited for clarity:

Maximum Tunon: According to the Supreme Committee, there were 3 deaths on the spot and 37 deaths at the scene. I think one of the misconceptions that exists around Qatar is that everyone in the country is working on building World Cup stadiums or World Cup facilities. At its peak, the supreme committee that organized the World Cup had 32,000 workers on site. But I think the main challenges exist with the smaller contractors, the subcontractors, and not the stadiums themselves.

Omar Sachedina: You said it was a misleading number — 6,500 people died in construction projects. Why is it misleading?

tunon: 6,500 is the total number of South Asian citizens who died in Qatar over a 10-year period. It makes no distinction between whether these are work-related deaths or non-work-related deaths. In fact, some of these may include people who are not even economically active.

Sachedina: It’s a very energy rich country, on a per capita basis a lot of money — why can’t it do the right thing and pay the workers and their families what they deserve? ?

tunon: There is no quick solution. These are deeply rooted practices. It takes time to build new institutions, it takes time to change the way you do business, to change your mindset. And so solving those problems will be a constant effort. The fact that we are dismantling the decades-old Kafala system, bringing in new forms of worker representation, workers’ voices, is something that doesn’t exist elsewhere in the region area.

Sachedina: There is still a huge wage disparity. Is there a part of you that shares some of the frustration?

tunon: Sure. I mean, we get daily cases from workers. Of course, it’s frustrating to hear that companies don’t pay their workers on time or when workers have difficulty accessing justice, it’s incredibly upsetting. When it comes to pay and wage protection, yes, there are challenges there. But now we can see that workers can access justice, through grievance mechanisms, through labor courts, through funds, all of which are entirely new institutions.

We don’t have the patience to make sure they work faster, but at the same time, we realize it’s a process. Most importantly, it requires commitment from the government just to go in a positive direction and that is what we have seen in recent years.


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