BWI holds successful global sports conference

Combining electronic, social media and traditional face-to-face interactions, BWI in partnership with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA), the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), and various solidarity support partners held a successful two-day Global Sports Conference on labour rights and the 2022 FIFA World Cup last 23 and 24 of November. 

The event, which was participated by trade union leaders, non-government organisations (NGOs), migrant community leaders and associations, as well as various government officials from around the world, discussed various issues and concerns on migrant workers’ rights, occupational health and safety, institutional partnerships among unions, FIFA and Qatari government officials, and reforms leading to the 2022 World Cup and beyond. 

The conference was attended by over 300 participants from 45 countries who registered online. It showcased a wide range of panelists from 11 countries and moderators representing 7 countries. 21 migrant community leaders and workers’ representatives, hailing from 13 countries, also attended the physical meeting in Doha, Qatar. 

BWI's biggest “hybrid" event to date

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson expressed his gratitude to all those who helped made the event a success. He said that the conference is BWI’s biggest “hybrid” event to date combining online and social media platforms, and traditional place-based interactions since the start of the pandemic.  “I am extremely proud and happy of this event. This is by no means a small feat. We have demonstrated that our commitment and tenacity to uphold labour rights could surpass overwhelming challenges and even outlive this pandemic. On behalf of BWI, I would like to thank all our partners, resource speakers, the workers from different parts of the world who registered and participated, the migrant workers’ communities and groups and our staff who made this event possible,” he said. 

Remembering Jin Sook Lee

The conference started with a moving tribute to Jin Sook Lee, who was BWI’s Global Campaign Director since 2010 and whose work included fighting for the rights and welfare of workers building mega-sporting infrastructures. When Qatar won the bid to host the next FIFA World Cup, she took up the challenge of building a global trade union campaign focused on the rights and welfare of migrant workers.


Reflections on cooperation for workers’ rights

The first day of the event was packed with four sessions. Session 1 reflected on the cooperation for workers’ rights in Qatar in the context of the 2022 World Cup. This was led by BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson and SHIFT Vice President and Co-Founder Rachel DavisThis was immediately followed by a session providing more details on the processes and outcomes of the joint labour inspections at the stadiums, formation and operations of Workers Welfare Forums (WWF) and the engagement on the universal reimbursement program covering recruitment fees. SC Workers’ Welfare Executive Director Mahmoud Qutub, BWI Lead Inspector Simon Hester and BESIX (Belgium) Chief People Officer Geert Aelbrecht led the deliberations.  

The future of social dialogue

The third session was shepherded by a panel comprised of Amin Rasul of the Migrants Community Leaders Forum in Qatar, Byggnads (Sweden) President Johan Lindholm, Centre for Sports and Human Rights Deputy Chief Executive William Rook, FIFA Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination head Andreas Graf, FIFPro General Secretary Theovan Seggelen and Mexican Senator-unionist Napoleon Gomez Urrutia (video message). The session, which was also moderated by BWI Deputy President and UNITE UK Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail, looked into the future of social dialogue as demonstrated by BWI with SC and other stakeholders and made more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Health and safety

The conference’s fourth session was devoted to workers’ health and safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It was divided into two (2) parts highlighting workers’ voices from different parts of the world and innovation and best practices of cooperation in responding to COVID-19 at workplaces.  Trade union leaders from FILCA-CISL (Italy), FGTB and ACV BIE (Belgium), FNSCBA-CGT (France), UNITE (United Kingdom), CFMMEU (Australia) and representatives from Qatar’s various workers’ welfare committees and community leaders’ forums shared their insights and experiences. 


94 graduated from Workers’ Welfare Trainings  

The first day of the conference ended with a recognition ceremony for all Workers’ Representatives who participated and graduated in the series of trainings and development programs organized jointly by BWI and SC. A total of 94 elected Workers’ Representatives from different Workers’ Welfare Forums completed the course. Due to the physical challenges imposed by the pandemic, a short video was prepared recognizing all the workers who have completed the trainings. 


 Sustaining the momentum of labour reforms beyond 2022 World Cup

BWI opened the second day of its event with a special message from Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs Mohammed Hassan Al-Obaidly. The MADLSA official, together with International Labour Organisation (ILO)-Qatar Head Houtan Houmayounpour, VINCI-QDVC Human Resources Director Hans Mielants, Philippine Embassy in Doha Labour Attaché David Des Dicang and INBCWF (India) President Ramachandra Khuntia, led the discussions on how to sustain the momentum of labour reforms in Qatar beyond the 2022 World Cup. BWI Deputy President Dietmar Schäfers of IG BAU (Germany) presided over the session.

BWI acknowledges the continuing support of its affiliates and solidarity support partners over the years such as FES-Germany, Mondiaal FNV-Netherlands, LO Norway, UNISON-UK, Open Society Foundation, SASK- Finland, SOLIDAR Swiss, SSGNE-Germany and Union to Union-Sweden that have joined our 13-year journey in ensuring decent work in mega-sporting events.