BWI on Qatar's labour reforms: Implementation is key to success

(Photo: FIFA)

Recognising the achievements of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in improving the plight of migrant workers who laboured the 2022 World Cup infrastructure in Qatar, the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) put forward a list of proposals for the effective enforcement of labour reforms in the country.

BWI made the proposals during an online meeting last 10 May hosted by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). The virtual event, which was in collaboration with SC and attended by FIFA’s member associations and confederations, discussed migrant workers’ rights and welfare in Qatar leading to the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022. 

Citing a new BWI Progress Report on Qatar that will be released next week, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson highlighted several proposals to carry out the labour reforms adopted by the country. Some of these are: 1) improvement of Qatar’s labour system to capably respond to non-payment and delayed payment of wages, 2) full funding and operationalization of a Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund, 3) FIFA and SC’s timely remedy on workers’ complaints and grievances, 4) assurance that migrant workers’ rights and voices are protected even after the World Cup, and 5) due diligence and joint inspections for multinational companies operating in Qatar. 

BWI said that its partnership with SC produced 18 joint safety inspection in all stadium construction sites which greatly improved the migrant workers’ health and safety conditions. A total of 108 Welfare Forums or Workers’ Committees were also established led by democratically-elected worker representatives. 

BWI said that with 18 months to go before the World Cup, a full implementation of the labour reforms will leave a positive legacy on migrant workers’ rights.  

“The enactment of good laws and regulations are indispensable. However, even if the reforms are significant, they do not become real to the workers unless they are effectively enforced. Without implementation, laws will be respected by some employers and ignored by others.  If employers, in effect, are allowed to choose whether to obey the law, compliance becomes voluntary,” Yuson said. 

The online event was also attended by His Excellency and SC Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi, Amnesty International, the International Labour Oganisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The meeting discussed a number of issues related to Qatar’s labour reforms programme, the important progress achieved since the country was awarded the tournament in 2010 and challenges that need to be addressed.