Geneva-based delegation in Qatar to investigate labor conditions

Published October 10th, 2013 - 04:00 GMT
Qatar's construction sector has one of the highest percentages of expatriate labor globally (Courtesy of Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)
Qatar's construction sector has one of the highest percentages of expatriate labor globally (Courtesy of Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

A Geneva-based international confederation of unions for construction laborers sent eighteen of its members to Qatar Monday as part of a four-day trip to investigate working conditions in the country, according to Al-Jazeera.


Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) is scheduled to speak with migrant workers, visit construction sites as well as labor camps throughout the country in response to the scathing report published in the Guardian that accuses Qatar of using forced labor to prepare for the 2022 World Cup.


Ambet Yuson, the general secretary of BWI said that the members were on a "fact-finding [mission]" and that working conditions in the Gulf country need "immediate attention."


Qatar's construction sector has one of the highest percentages of expatriate workers in the world according to Al-Jazeera's report.
In response to the Guardian report, which also noted that dozens of Nepali workers had died due to health and workplace incidents, the Qatari government announced they would implement reforms, but said that the report's accusation of forced labor was "a conspiracy."


The mission has already met with workers and visited labor camps in Ras Laffan and Al Khor, but some meetings with Qatari officials have been cancelled in protest to BWI's statement denouncing FIFA's choice of Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host.


BWI has been planning to visit Qatar months before the Guardian report, according to Ambet Yuson. Informed by its data collection over the past months, the Geneva-based confederation has called on the Gulf country to address issues such as employers confiscating passports and imposing illegal recruitment fees. BWI has also called on Qatar to impose "meaningful sanctions" on labor law violators and to abolish the country's "kefala" system that binds workers to a single employer.


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