Qatar Ministry and BWI organise Community Leaders’ Forum

19 February 2019 21:54

The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour, and Social Affairs (MADLSA) and Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) organised a Community Leaders’ Forum on Workers’ Welfare on 15 February 2019 in Doha, Qatar. It is a dialogue platform to ensure that community organization from nationality-based groups of migrant workers can be informed on and discuss social and worker rights developments.

There were about 200 participants in the event. They represented Indian, Nepalese Bangladeshi, Filipino, Sri Lankan, Nigerian, and Ghanaian community organisations in Qatar. In addition to BWI, represented by Global Campaign Director Jin Sook Lee, the head of the Qatar Project Office of the International Labour Organisation, Houtan Homazounpour participated.

Participants raised several concerns, including about transfer rights of workers from one employer to the other, human trafficking, and delays in the payment of wages.

The panel from the Ministry of ADLSA was led by its Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs, H. E. Mohammed Hassan Al-Obaidly. The Government of Qatar has committed to the international community to implement far-reaching labour reforms. They have already made important progress. Some of those measures have been implemented in cooperation with BWI.

Assistant Undersecretary Al-Obaidy spoke frankly to the community leaders about his hopes for the reforms, but also of the challenges. He said, “Implementing these reforms is not easy. We have to go through a steep learning curve. As much as we want to hasten these reforms, it simply takes time. As much as possible, we build consensus in the development and implementation of reform programs. And, we also need to ensure that the policies and programs we are now pursuing shall be sustained. We should think beyond the FIFA World Cup in 2022 that our country is hosting. We aim for our Vision 2030. And beyond 2030.”

On behalf of BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, Jin Sook Lee, expressed “confidence in the commitment of the Ministry of ADLSA in its partnership with BWI to ensure constructive solutions to address immediate concerns raised by the workers today as well as implementing long-term labour reforms”.

Following the meeting, Jin Sook Lee stressed that, like the Ministry, BWI has sought permanent respect of rights and improvements of working conditions.

She stated, “the World Cup Games are important because they focused attention on the situation of workers and provided an incentive for us to work together, but migrant workers have long been important contributors to construction and to the economy of Qatar and, as Assistant Undersecretary Al-Obaidy said, they will continue to do so for many decades. We are convinced that full respect of the rights of workers is essential for workers as well as for Qatar.”