Qatar: 2,000 GSS Certis security workers allegedly housed in poor & cramped conditions while working for big brands; incl. co. responses
In this three-part series, migrant worker "Noah", who first moved to Doha, Qatar in 2016 and has worked there for two periods, writes of his lived experience for NGO Migrant-Rights.org. In the articles, Noah details his employment with GSS Certis, a Qatari security company that provides workers to projects and clients, including banks, government departments and hotels.
The series alleges that 2,000 workers employed by GSS Certis are currently housed in accommodation in the Industrial Area of Doha in substandard conditions. When reports emerged of an outbreak of COVID-19 among workers housed in the Industrial Area, the workers were relocated to Rastec Villas, where they were also allegedly subject to poor and extremely cramped living conditions.
Noah approached the client who had subcontracted him, Msheireb Properties, and its parent, Qatar Foundation, detailing the poor living conditions he and other employees were living in through their whistleblowing procedures. Whilst Qatar Foundation had responded, the situation remained unchanged until Migrant-Rights.org published the below pieces and the workers on the Msheireb Downtown Doha project were rehoused in accommodation with more space. Noah also described that a number of workers he worked alongside at Msheireb Downtown Doha suffered from irregular wage payments, inexplicable deductions and a lack of payslips.
Workers employed by GSS Certis deployed on other projects, however, allegedly remain in the camp in "indecent" and "hazardous" accommodation. Noah highlights the distinction in living conditions for workers employed by the same company but working on different projects, stating:
The changes should apply to everyone, especially in light of Covid-19 and the recommended social distancing Accommodation within the Industrial Area should be outlawed. Not only is it indecent, but it is also hazardous – dust (which almost always contains harmful particulate matter), fumes, noise, the toll on mental health, fatigue, etc. More benchmark accommodations like Barwa Al Baraha and Asian City should be set up with all the facilities and amenities specified by the government.Noah, Migrant-rights.org
Migrant-Rights.org approached GSS Certis for comment. The company declined to respond, and said: “Our management in Qatar would like to inform that we are not able to participate in any interviews at the moment.”
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre contacted a number of companies for response:
- Temasek Holdings, the parent company of Certis, GSS Certis’ parent company; response provided in full below. After Temasek contacted GSS Certis management, GSS Certis also provided a response to us.
- Rastec Properties, the company managing the compound where workers were relocated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where they were also allegedly subject to poor living conditions; Rastec did not respond.
- Companies allegedly being provided by GSS Certis guards living in the camp: Hamad International Airport, Alfardan Properties, Mannai Corporation, Kahramaa (Qatar General Electricity), Sephora, Intercontinental Doha, Fraser Suites, Banana Island Resort Anantara (Minor International), Qatar National Bank (QNB), Commercial Bank, Ministry of Municipality and Environment (Baladiya) & Jaidah Group.
- Mannai Corporation, KAHRAMAA, InterContinental Hotel Group, Frasers Hospitality & Sephora provided responses which can be read in full below while Minor International has stated it intends to provide a response; the others did not respond.
- Kempinski, Marriott & Wyndham Hotels & Resorts regarding allegations that they had previously been provided security personnel by GSS Certis and at that time, workers had lived in the same poor conditions; their responses can be read in full below.
- Minor International after they disclosed to the Resource Centre they outsourced security for their Anantara resort from GSS Certis.
In May 2021, Noah/Malcolm Bidali was arrested by the Qatari authority, ostensibly because of his activism. He has been released and charged with spreading disinformation and receiving payments from a "foreign agent". See our ongoing coverage of Malcolm's case here.