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Article

13 Dec 2016

Author:
Tom Finn, Noah Browning & Richard Lough, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Qatar says labour reforms will benefit migrant workers

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The Qatari government on Monday vowed that labour law reforms to make it easier for migrant workers to change jobs and leave the country would bring "tangible benefits"...The reforms will establish the creation of state-run "grievance committees" to which workers can appeal if employers deny them permission. They will also allow workers who have completed contracts to change jobs freely and imposes fines of up to 25,000 riyal ($6,865.87) on businesses who confiscate employees' passports.

Amnesty International said in a statement that the new law would "barely scratch the surface of an abusive system". The campaign group called on Qatar to abolish exit permits altogether and ban passport confiscation.

A workforce of 2.1 million foreigners outnumbers Qatari citizens by about 10 to one. Unions and labor protests are banned. Japesh, an Indian construction worker waving traffic past a building site in Doha on Monday welcomed the reforms but said he would wait to see if the rules were enforced. "They [our bosses] told us before that things would improve but last month our passports were taken and our pay was delayed again," he said.

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