Qatar 2022 – One year since the FIFA World Cup

Geneva - 22 November 2023. This week marks one-year since the kick off of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. For more than a decade, BWI has worked with migrant workers in Qatar to enhance and protect their rights and conditions. Migrant construction workers were responsible for building the stadia and other facilities that helped deliver the World Cup and beyond. Due to the active cooperation with the authority responsible for preparation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, BWI work expanded in cooperation with migrant workers and their organisations. Reforms, defence of rights, handling of grievances, training of elected worker leaders, and joint health and safety inspections followed. 

In the run-up to the World Cup a year ago, as preparations wound down, migrant workers were concerned about future work as well as the sustainability of reforms. The building of Game facilities was a shock to the construction industry which required thousands of migrant workers. Similarly, the completion of the facilities was a shock to both sides of industry. Many migrant workers faced uncertainty about their future. 

In September 2023, the Minister of Labour, Dr. Ali bin Saeed bin Samikh Al Marri, met with leaders of Global Unions to discuss the sustainability of the reform process after the FIFA World Cup. They agreed to continue regular dialogue and develop cooperation for a sustainable advancement and progress of labour laws. 

In addition to cross-sectoral dialogue, BWI is working with the Ministry of Labour on implementing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed and signed in March of 2022 to sustain and expand BWI’s support to migrant construction workers after the World Cup. Through the agreement, BWI and the Ministry are cooperating on key issues of workers’ training and awareness raising, health and safety inspection systems, promotion of dialogue between migrant workers’ leaders and the authorities, as well as legal assistance and services provision to workers seeking remedy and justice for outstanding monitary claims and breaches of their labour rights by abusive employers. 

Migrant worker leaders saw hope in the resumption of the dialogue and the cooperation, underpinned by the recognition of their role in supporting fellow workers and community members. 

The reform process affecting the rights and conditions of migrant workers in Qatar is not over. Dialogue and cooperation are the best ways to continue to address challenges in implementation of labour law and regulations from the ground-up to bring about the positive change workers deserve, and to create the conditions for workers to expand and articulate their voices, defend their rights, and determine their own destinies.

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