BWI in Qatar: An unlikely, but fruitful partnership

“An unlikely, but necessary partnership.”

This was how BWI’s partnership with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) on workers’ rights in Qatar was described at the global union’s two-day Global Sports Conference held November of last year. 

Facilitated by Thomas Claes, Project Director of FES’ regional trade union program in the region, the session provided details on the processes and outcomes of the joint labour inspections at the stadiums, formation and operations of Workers Welfare Forums (WWF) and the engagement on the universal reimbursement program covering recruitment fees. 

SC Workers’ Welfare Executive Director Mahmoud Qutub started the discussion by presenting their initiatives and their impact on BWI’s efforts to improve workers’ rights and welfare in Qatar. 

Qutub reported that since the start of SC’s partnership with SC in 2016, 20 joint labour inspections were conducted that resulted in the rectification of 185 site non-compliances and observations and 179 accommodation non-compliances and observations. He also said that they were able to conduct 94 workers’ trainings and published 3 joint working group (JWG) reports. 

Immediately after, BWI Lead Inspector Simon Hester took his turn to share his views and experiences on the joint partnership between BWI and SC. 

Hester started his presentation by saying that while he was skeptical at first with the partnership, BWI’s three guiding principles of “no holding back” on observations, problem identification and demands, identifying high-level managerial shortcomings and failings, and creation of worker’s self-help organisations helped usher in important workers’ rights reforms. 

For his part, BESIX (Belgium) Chief People Officer Geert Aelbrecht described the partnership as a “journey” that has introduced “cultural change” on the part of key stakeholders. 

“From our point of view, this is a likely partnership to protect the health and safety of workers. We have the same needs and outcomes,” Aelbrecht said.