Today, on the opening of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the BWI and its 12 million members around the world express condolences to the families of the twenty-one construction workers who died during construction of World Cup stadiums.
“As fans of the game, we will be cheering in the stands of the newly built stadiums, but we need to also hold a moment of silence in memory of the construction workers who lost their lives in the construction of the stadiums,” said Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI.
“It is in their memory that BWI will continue to call for better safety measures in future World Cups to prevent future fatalities,” he said.
On 7th of June BWI World Board adopted its report Foul Play: FIFA’s failures at the 2018 World Cup Russia,” which examines FIFA’s human rights commitments adopted in May 2017 “to anchor respect for human rights in the bidding and hosting of our events and throughout our relationships with third parties”.
BWI recognises that FIFA’s human rights policy and overall approach to integrating human rights has changed in important ways since 2015. Following a report commissioned by FIFA and written by ProfessorJohn Ruggie, FIFA added human rights responsibilities to Article 3 of its Statutes. Since then, it has set up an independent Human Rights Advisory Board and in May 2017, adopted its first Human Rights Policy, applicable across its global operations. However, in practice, too little has changed.
Based on the experience of the BWI and Russian Building Workers Union (RBWU) and 35 joint inspection visits over the period October 2016 to March 2018, the BWI report identifies a catalogue of failures concerning workers’ rights at the stadium construction sites. These include abusive recruitment practices for migrant workers, failure to provide employment contracts and regular and decent wages, using an exploitative practice of bonus payments instead of a transparent wage-system, serious occupational health and safety violations putting workers in danger and resulted in 21 fatalities, requirements to work in extreme cold weather, and often squalid and unhygienic employer-provided accommodation.
The report made several recommendations to FIFA on how to implement their human rights commitments effectively. These include new mandatory provisions on compliance with national and international labour standards in bidding specifications; and in technical specifications for World Cup stadiums and related infrastructure; commitments on recruitment and employment of migrant workers who are the most vulnerable to abuse. The report further recommends that FIFA work with BWI to establish a model text for the scope and contents of future Memorandum of Understanding and joint inspection mechanisms. It also calls on FIFA to adopt a policy and measures to ensure zero tolerance of fatal accidents.