Qatar has unveiled labour reforms following international criticism over its treatment of foreign workers.
Preparations for the 2022 World Cup have highlighted restrictive employment conditions which mean for example a worker cannot change jobs without his employer’s permission.
Mohammed al Ateeq from the Ministry of Interior explained some of the changes:
“These new proposals give a flexibility for the employee to move from one employer to the other through a work contract, it also gives the employee the flexibility to leave the country and the law would increase financial punishments on any employer who prevents his workers from keeping their own passports.”
However Human Rights groups say the reforms are limited and don’t include such things as a minimum wage or allow for trade unions.
“We of course don’t react to pressure,” said Ali Alkhulaifi Ministry from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. “We always work on developing labour rights.I believe we have regulations that are good and strong enough to protect the rights of workers whether it is for World Cup projects or any other projects.”
Since the awarding of the world cup in 2010 1,200 construction workers have died on sites and there have been reports of labourers not being given enough food or water, but the government says the reforms are for all workers.
From Doha, euronews’ Maha Barada said:
“When this draft law comes into force, Qatar will have put an end to much of the criticism by human rights organisations concerning the situation of foreign workers in general. Many people here see it as a historic step that could completely change the relationship between the employer and the employee.”