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Article

25 Oct 2017

Author:
Travis Waldron, HuffPost

Qatari labor reforms could finally end 'modern day slavery' for migrant workers

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“For all workers who are associated with the infrastructure necessary for the World Cup, it will mean a change from a system of modern slavery to normalized industrial relations,” [Sharan] Burrow, [the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation] told HuffPost. “For those specifically working on the World Cup, it gives them confidence that the promises that have been empty to date...will in fact have some legal teeth behind them.”

FIFA has maintained it is committed to workers’ rights but has faced its own criticism and legal challenges over its failure to pressure Qatar to reform. The international soccer governing body did not specifically comment on the new reforms...[t]hough a spokesperson pointed to a previous statement that it “recognises its responsibility to address human rights risks” associated with its events. FIFA, the spokesperson said, “will continue to engage with the Qatari authorities to build on the initiatives put in place for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and help raise the bar in regards to labour standards across the country.”

Though ITUC will no longer request that the World Cup be moved from Qatar, Burrow said FIFA should claim no credit for the potential abolition of the “kafala” system. “They had the power to affect change five years ago,” she said. “Sadly, they’ve stood by and watched the situation in Qatar. But we’ve always said, ‘No Qatar World Cup without workers’ rights.’ Now, we can have a World Cup with workers’ rights, hopefully.”

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