BWI hails new measures in Qatar that protect freedom of movement for most migrant workers

08 September 2018 15:10


On 4 September, the Government of Qatar announced that it would enact legislation – Law No. 13 of 2018 – that ends requirements for exit permits from employers for at least 1.5 million migrant workers.

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers’ International welcomed the enactment of the new law saying, “This is a significant advancement for workers’ human rights in Qatar. Now, the next step is for the effective implementation of the new legislation so that it will have clear impact on the ground for migrant workers working in Qatar, many of them in construction.”

In November of 2017, the ILO Governing Body endorsed a comprehensive three-year technical cooperation agreement. According to the ILO Governing Body decision, “Through this technical cooperation programme, the Government of Qatar expressed a commitment to align its laws and practices with international labour standards and fundamental principles and rights at work, including by implementing related comments of the ILO supervisory bodies.”

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson recalled discussions with workers during early BWI missions to Qatar; “one of the main concerns for migrant workers working in Qatar was employer control of their right to leave the country. This is an important step in the abolishment of the kafala system. We look forward to further progress for migrant workers on the fundamental rights of workers”.

Dietmar Schaefers, Deputy President of IGBAU Germany and Chair of the BWI Sports Campaign Group, stated, “we signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery (SC) and Legacy in November of 2016. We have had good cooperation and several joint inspections.

Schaefers, went on to say, “although the legal change on exit permits is beyond the scope of our agreement, we have been very aware of the problem from discussions with workers. We know that the Qatari authorities have also been pre-occupied with those issues and we consider this major change on exit visas to be very positive.” 

Statement from the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC

Statement from the International Labour Organization, ILO