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Labour reforms in Qatar

Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Westminster Hall debate on 'Labour reforms in Qatar' is scheduled for Wednesday 14 March 2018 from 4.30-5.30pm. The Member initiating the debate is Alex Norris MP.

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Qatar has more than 1.5 million migrant workers, making up about 90% of its total labour force. Standards for workers in Qatar, usually migrant workers, have been criticised. Deaths and injuries at work have been compounded by allegations of non-payment of salaries and of a sponsorship system, “kafala”, that makes it difficult for migrant workers to leave their employer, even where abuse is taking place. Some media outlets have described the conditions of workers, particularly in the run up to the 2022 World Cup, as tantamount to slavery and that the construction for the football competition would cost thousands of lives.

After international pressure, including from the International Trade Union Confederation, and discussions with the International Labour Organisation the Government of Qatar committed itself to align its laws and practices with international labour standards and fundamental principles and rights at work; to institute a statutory minimum wage; and to allow monitoring of labour practices.

The reforms would be significant in the region, where migrant labour is used in many oil-rich states and conditions are often very poor, but human rights organisations warn that what matters is the implementation of the reforms, pointing to Bahrain, where thorough justice sector reform was promised after the 2011 disturbances but implementation was criticised.

Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0071

Authors: Nigel Walker; Ben Smith; Eleanor Gadd; Antonia Garraway

Topic: Middle East

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