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French builder Vinci accused of forced labour in Qatar; company denies claims

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26 April 2015

France: Vinci Construction investigated over Qatar forced labour claims

Author: Kim Willsher, Guardian (UK)

"France: Vinci Construction investigated over Qatar forced labour claims", 26 April 2015

A major French construction company is under investigation after claims it used forced labour for buildings for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Paris government announced at the weekend there was enough evidence for it to open a preliminary inquiry into Vinci Construction. The move follows a complaint by the non-governmental organisation Sherpa. The investigation will centre on whether Vinci and its Qatari subsidiary QDVC is using “forced labour, servitude and concealment” with regard to sites in Qatar including building for the football tournament. Vinci has denied the accusations claiming it provides migrant workers with decent working conditions. The company says it is suing Sherpa for defamation...Sherpa welcomed the investigation. A statement on its website read as follows: “Modern slavery does not consist of shackling and whipping workers. It is subtler; the penal code defines a vulnerable population, under the threat of an employer and extreme economical dependency, as having no choice but to accept the deplorable working conditions and therefore renew its contract.” In its legal claim, the NGO said: “Passports were confiscated by the company and workers were threatened if they claimed their right to better working conditions and housing, if they wished to resign or change employer.” The passport confiscations were allegedly halted in January this year...

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22 April 2015

Vinci files defamation complaint against Sherpa & its employees after NGO sues company over alleged forced labour in Qatar

Author: Sherpa

"Complaint against Vinci in Qatar: Vinci is suing for defamation and is claiming exorbitant compensatory damages from the Sherpa association and its employees", 22 Apr 2015

Following the complaint we filed on 23 March against Vinci Construction Grands Projets and its subsidiary Qatarie for forced labour and servitude, Vinci is not only suing the Sherpa association for defamation, but also certain Sherpa employees…multinationals often use this kind of costly procedure to discourage less wealthy claimants. We were expecting this kind of reaction which is called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation…)…We remain confident because we have proof of what we are putting forward and we will not abandon our mandate which is to ensure that human rights are respected and to defend the victims of economic crimes in whichever country the multinationals are working in…Our actions have already produced results because Vinci’s spokesmen have been obliged to answer for their practices and above all have reported improvements to working conditions on their construction sites in Qatar…

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24 March 2015

VINCI entirely refutes Sherpa’s allegations and decides to file a lawsuit for defamation

Author: Vinci

VINCI has been working in Qatar via QDVC since 2007 and employs 3,500 people in the country. We have repeatedly welcomed unions, international NGOs and journalists onto our building sites...All QDVC employees are free to retrieve their passports at any time, and we strictly observe working hours and rest time.VINCI strives to improve employee working and living conditions throughout the world. This is the case in Qatar, where we have built new housing facilities at the beginning of this year in order to provide our workers with better living conditions...We are therefore appalled by the accusations against us and have decided to:

     - file a lawsuit against Sherpa, whose slanderous allegations constitute a serious attack on our image;
     - invite Sherpa representatives, and any journalists who so wish, to visit our building sites and living quarters in order to inspect working and living conditions first-hand, at their earliest convenience.

VINCI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact since 2003. Under this compact, businesses commit to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

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24 March 2015

Vinci, French construction company, to sue over claims of forced labour in Qatar

Author: Dominique Vidalon & Gilles Guillaume, Reuters

"French builder Vinci to sue over claims of forced labor in Qatar", 24 March 2015

French construction giant Vinci vigorously denied allegations it had violated the rights of migrant workers helping to build stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and said it would sue the human rights group Sherpa over its claims. Paris-based Sherpa said it had asked the public prosecutor of Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, to open an investigation after it filed a complaint with the Nanterre court against Vinci's Construction Grand Projets division and the managers of its 49 percent-owned Qatari unit QDVC for "forced labor" and "keeping people in servitude". Reuters was unable to independently verify Sherpa's accusations. Vinci, which employs 3,500 people in Qatar and counts the wealthy Arab state as its second-largest shareholder, said it would sue Sherpa for libel and that the claims "severely" hurt its image...

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23 March 2015

French builder Vinci faces claim of forced labor in Qatar

Author: Dominique Vidalon, Reuters

French construction group Vinci faces a claim from a campaign group over alleged forced labor involving migrant workers on building projects tied to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.  "Vinci absolutely denies the claims made by Sherpa. The group respects local labor laws and fundamental rights in Qatar as well as in all the countries where it operates," a Vinci spokesman said by telephone. The Sherpa NGO said in a statement it had a submitted a claim in a French court against Vinci Construction Grand Projects and the managers of the Qatari unit QDVC for "forced labor" and "keeping someone in servitude".

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