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Undercover investigation reports range of abuses against migrant workers in Qatar, includes comments from FIFA

An undercover investigation on labour conditions in Qatar has, for the first time, prompted FIFA to admit violations of worker standards on World Cup projects. A Deutsche Welle report on the investigation says that “FIFA have promised to investigate the allegations made by WDR” and that the football governing body issued a press release in which in stated “We are aware of reports that the company TAWASOL – a sub-contractor in the construction of the Al Bayt Stadium – has violated the standards for workers”.

The company named in the report, TAWASOL, has since paid outstanding wages to 23 employees  according to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

The investigation by the German broadcaster WDR found delayed wages to be a recurrent theme for the thousands of Nepalese migrant workers on projects in Qatar. It features interviews with migrant workers who allege a range of additional abuses including expired visas, poor accommodation and hazardous working conditions. Additionally, the Nepal embassy disclosed data to WDR showing that 1,426 Nepalese workers had died in Qatar between 2009 and 2019.

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12 June 2019

FIFA Press Release

Author: FIFA

FIFA has a zero tolerance policy on human rights violations associated with its activities. In line with international standards and our Human Rights Policy, FIFA is fully committed to human rights as evidenced through the implementation of our strategic human rights programme in the past years and acknowledged by different international organisations.

The accusations against Tawasol mentioned in the report are very serious and we are engaging with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) as our trusted partner in Qatar to look into the alleged cases of labour rights abuse on sites associated with the FIFA World Cup.

It is important to note that the allegations stand in contrast with the overall findings of the multi-layered monitoring system implemented on FIFA World Cup sites, which includes, amongst other things, joint inspections with the international trade union for construction workers BWI, as well as monitoring activities by an independent external monitor. We are aware that through that system, breaches of labour standards have been identified related to Tawasol back in December 2018 and are being addressed by the SC since then. The steps taken by the SC include the demobilization of the company from an SC site, the reporting of the company to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, and the suspension of the company from all SC sites until further notice. 

With regard to the broader labour rights reform process in the country, and as has been recognized by the ILO and international experts, rights and conditions have considerably improved in Qatar. FIFA welcomes the important progress achieved over the past years. At the same time, we share the view of human rights organisations, that additional progress is needed for the full implementation of the commitments for comprehensive labour reform by the Government of Qatar, and we know that the Qatari authorities are working intensely in collaboration with the ILO and other stakeholders to meet these objectives.

11 June 2019

Qatar: Nepal confirms ‘many deaths’ in Qatar as show says figure as high as 1,400

Author: Sanjay Kumar, Arab News

[Narayan Ragmi, Labor Ministry spokeman] said there was a memorandum of understanding with Doha... Workers were briefed before leaving Nepal and went through a pre-departure orientation program... Accidents and poor living conditions were claiming around 110 lives every year, according to Nepali government figures. Bereaved families of dead workers told WDR they had received no compensation from Doha.

[Janak Sapkota, a Kathmandu-based journalist said] “most of the international companies working in Qatar do not meet safety requirements... many construction workers lose their lives through this gross negligence... Qatari companies took steps to respect the rights of the workers, but they are still not sufficient.” Barun Ghimire, a Nepal-based human rights activist and lawyer, said employers in Qatar had failed to create working conditions to safeguard the health of workers... He said up to 1,300 migrant workers departed Nepal on a daily basis for Gulf-based jobs, and... several dead migrant workers were repatriated to Nepal every day.

Read the full post here

7 June 2019

Qatar 2022: FIFA admits violation of workers' standards

Author: James Thorogood, DW (Germany)

Shocking revelations brought to light by an investigative report on Qatar's World Cup preparations by German broadcaster WDR have been referred to as "serious allegations" by football's governing body FIFA...

"We are captured," [said Nepali worker Dil Prasad] told WDR. "Every day we nourish ourselves on water and bread. Without money we can't do anything else. Month on month our situation gets worse and worse.... If the companies would just pay us the money we're owed"... While a lack of pay was a recurring theme, so too were the deaths of migrant workers... 1,426 [Nepali workers] had passed away between 2009 and 2019, while there were 111 deaths this year alone. 

...football's governing body had stressed that the allegations related not to the alleged offenses on stadium construction sites in Qatar, but to other projects over which they had no influence... FIFA did admit to a breach in workers' standards for the first time in a press release on Wednesday: "We are aware of reports that the company TAWASOL – a sub-contractor in the construction of the Al Bayt Stadium – has violated the standards for workers." The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy... has since confirmed that 23 TAWASOL employees have been paid their outstanding earnings and will continue to work on the site.

Yet it's another troubling development surrounding the working conditions for guest workers, which have been heavily criticized for several years by unions and human rights groups alike.

Read the full post here