Qatar: Migrant workers protest delayed wages & poor working conditions
A video and images circulating online appear to show hundreds of migrant workers taking part in strikes in Qatar over the 4th and 5th August. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and media report the workers are protesting against poor working conditions, wage delays and the threat of reduced salaries. Workers interviewed by Al Jazeera also reported poor living conditions and alleged that their employers had failed to renew their work permits or isse them with certificates to allow them to change employer.
According to reports, hundreds of workers employed by two construction companies, Tashgeel Group and its partner Iskan Group, have protested wage delays of up to five months. No detailed information has been made publicly available on other employers of striking workers. Protesters have reportedly been striking at two locations, Labour City, a migrant labour accommodation, and Shahaniyeh municipality, where a local resident also confirmed the strike and workers’ wage demands.
Significantly, video evidence shows a heavy, yet unengaged, police presence at the protest. Workers were allowed to continue protesting despite Qatari legislation severely curtailing workers’ rights to collective bargaining and freedom of association. One protesting worker reported that officials from the labour ministry were present.
HRW called on the Qatari government to amend the labour law including to allow workers to escape abusive employment conditions and to guarantee the right to strike. A Qatari government official responded to HRW on twitter that they are conducting an investigation into the migrants’ allegations; a statement was issued on 17th August.
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre contacted Tashgeel Group for a response to these allegations, but was unable to reach Iskan Group. Tashgeel Group did not respond.