Health Care

United Nations agency ends potential Qatar investigation after migrant-worker reforms

The UN's labour agency on Wednesday closed a probe into the alleged mistreatment of foreign workers in World Cup 2022 host Qatar, praising a reform plan agreed by the emirate.

The law was implemented to ease the requirements of the work sponsorship system, known as Kafala, which now requires all foreign workers to obtain their employer's consent to travel overseas or switch jobs.

The gas-rich emirate has committed tens of billions of dollars to construction of stadiums, hotels and transport projects linked to the 2022 World Cup.

"The ILO welcomes the decision of Qatar to cooperate substantially with the Organization for the promotion and protection of workers ' rights, and hopes that the cooperation programme will be successfully implemented over the next three years", said its director-general Guy Ryder.

"The transformation of this complaint into a real commitment by the government of Qatar to make positive change on the ground for all workers is a very encouraging development", Luc Cortebeeck, chairman of the ILO governing body, said in a statement. Qatar has also announced last month that it was going to put in place a minimum wage for workers.

The ILO said Qatar had committed to a technical co-operation programme, under which they would work together to strengthen national regulations and practices in line with worldwide standards.

A new technical co-operation programme between the ILO and Qatar will support the transition to a modern industrial relations system, with the United Nations body establishing an office in the country for the first time.

The International Trade Union Confederation, one of Qatar's fiercest critics which co-authored the 2014 complaint, backed the ILO decision.

"This is a historic day", she said.

"It originated out of deep concern for exploitative practices", ILO Workers' Group spokeswoman Catelene Passchier said Wednesday, stressing that Qatar must act on its promises.

In 2014, a complaint was lodged with the ILO accusing Qatar of failing to comply with its obligations as a signatory to conventions on forced labour and labour inspections. Migrant workers in submitting complaints to the national disputes mechanisms will receive support along with an extensive technical and training programme for officials. "Government, unions and companies working together opens a new era for employment rights in Qatar, with workers' lives and livelihoods being protected", said Burrow. The majority hail from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.



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