Qatar is working on overhauling its labour system so that all employees in the country are protected by the best possible employment laws and regulations, Qatar’s media attache for the UK HE Sheikh Thamer bin Hamad al-Thani said Friday.
“Qatar is not ambivalent to the plight of its migrant workers,” he stressed in a statement to The Guardian, according to a report issued by the official Qatar News Agency (QNA).
Referring to an article published in British daily on October 29 by Pete Pattisson, the senior Qatari official stated that it failed to acknowledge the progress Qatar has made in reforming its labour system and attempted to portray the country as ambivalent to the plight of its migrant workforce.
“Such claims were simply untrue,” declared Sheikh Thamer while revealing that the claims made in the article have been viewed with concern and Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs has announced an investigation.
The official cited statistics to reflect the work being made to address labour issues.
“Qatar carried out over 19,000 labour inspections, banned almost 12,000 companies due to not addressing the laws, and added almost 230,000 electronic contracts to prevent against contract substitution, all in the first half of 2018,” he explained.
In addition to that, Sheikh Thamer highlighted that Qatar was co-operating with the International Labour Organisation and countries of origin to eliminate employment fees at source.
“These efforts will become more prominent once the country opens 20 visa-processing centres in eight countries over the coming months,” he said.
The first overseas Qatar Visa Centre (QVC) was opened in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on October 11 as part of Qatar’s efforts to facilitate and streamline procedures for bringing expatriates to work, Gulf Times reported.
The centres will operate based on an integrated electronic system for the implementation of procedures such as medical examination, fingerprint and biometrics, and the signing of work contracts for expatriates outside the State, under the supervision of and follow-up by the authorities concerned within Qatar.
The project comes as a confirmation of the role of Qatar in the care and protection of the rights of expatriate workers, through the application of the highest international standards in this regard, Mohamed Hassan al-Obaidali, assistant undersecretary for labour affairs at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, had announced.
The process starts in Qatar, where the employer or recruiter applies for approval of foreign worker visas based on work contracts according to the applicable regulation through the MoI website or Metrash 2.
When the approvals are granted, the applicant can proceed with necessary procedures at the available QVC at his own country.
Al-Obaidali said the new system would considerably help in reducing the number of labour disputes, such as fraudulent contracts and illegal fees collected by recruitment agencies from employees in the country of origin.
In addition, both the employer and employee would have a clear picture of the agreed terms and conditions, and hence the protection of the rights of both would be ensured.
Sheikh Thamer, in his statement to The Guardian, highlighted that October also saw the removal of exit permits for the majority of overseas workers, which he hailed as another major step in the reform process.
He observed that Qatar however needs to be vigilant in enforcing the new laws. "Where violations of the law occur, workers are encouraged to report these and have multiple mechanisms to do so," Sheikh Thamer added, according to QNA.
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2021