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Article

22 Nov 2018

Author:
Reuters

Vinci denies new allegations of forced labor in Qatar

French construction firm Vinci...denied new allegations by human rights group Sherpa that it had violated the rights of migrant workers employed to build sites in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Sherpa, which previously filed a claim against Vinci that was dismissed by French prosecutors in February, said it had lodged a fresh complaint against the company in France, with new witness statements on alleged abuses.

In a statement, Vinci,..., said it “refuted, back then and now, all the allegations made by Sherpa”...The French company denied that some migrant workers had seen their passports confiscated and said employees could access their documents stored in safes at any time.  It also said that no serious accidents had been recorded at its construction sites due to high temperatures...Sherpa said witnesses had described workers vomiting and suffering from weakness in excessive heat...

Sherpa said it was lodging its complaint against Vinci in France together with another non-governmental organisation CCEM (Committee against modern slavery) and six former Vinci workers from India and Nepal.  The allegations are leveled at Vinci’s Construction Grand Projets division as well as its QDVC unit...Sherpa said it had gathered new testimonies and elements this year in India, where some of the migrant workers originated from.  It accuses the groups and their managers of deliberately endangering people’s lives, forced labor and a failure to provide first aid assistance to workers.  It also alleges employees had to work between 66 and 77 hours a week, on wages that were a fraction of average salaries in Qatar, and were housed in cramped conditions, violating international labor standards.