DOHA (Dispatches) – Hundreds of migrant workers in Qatar have gone without pay and many are forced to return to their home countries without compensation, despite recent reforms intended to improve worker rights, a report from Amnesty International says.
Since being named host of World Cup 2022, Qatar has come under fire for what rights groups describe as poor labor conditions. It has responded by enacting a broad reform program to guard worker rights and improve its image abroad.
The Persian Gulf state relies on about 2 million migrant workers for the bulk of its labor force, mainly from Asian countries like Nepal, India and the Philippines.
It has scrapped exit visas for most workers, implemented a minimum wage, and established dispute resolution committees to fast-track complaints of unpaid wages.
But a new report from Amnesty International describes how hundreds of workers still can’t recover unpaid salaries, despite the resolution committees.
"Despite the significant promises of reform which Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues, Stephen Cockburn.
Responding to the report, Qatar said it continues "to work with NGOs, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), to ensure that these reforms are far-reaching and effective,” according to a statement from its government communications office.
"Any issues or delays with our systems will be addressed comprehensively. We have said, from the outset, that this would take time, resources and commitment,” it said.
The report documents three Qatari companies that allegedly failed to pay more than 2,000 workers, leading 1,620 of them to submit complaints to the Committees for the Settlement of Labour Disputes.
The workers were employed by companies involved in construction and cleaning services but not directly related to World Cup projects, according to the report.