Last June, an investigative report by Westdeutscher Rundfunk Koln (WDR), a German public broadcaster, exposed the dreadful conditions of Nepali migrants working on the construction of numerous stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar. Nepali workers were reported to be living without money or food, in cramped spaces and prison-like conditions.
In August, Nepali workers also joined in a rare protest in Qatar where thousands of construction workers protested against the continued inhuman treatment in the gas-rich nation. Media reports showed that migrant workers were protesting on the streets for delayed and unpaid salaries and poor facilities. In the month again, hundreds of Nepali workers went on strike after their employers did not issue them a valid ID card for months.
These instances show how exploitation of migrant workers, including Nepali workers, have continued in the gas-rich nation, which is also the thesis of the latest research by Amnesty International released on Sept. 17.
According to the new research, thousands of migrant workers are still waiting in vain for unpaid wages and compensation, despite Qatar’s promises to improve workers’ rights.
The report called “All Work, No Pay: The Struggle Of Qatar’s Migrant Workers For Justice” revealed how hundreds of migrant workers working for three construction and cleaning companies have given up on justice and returned home penniless since March 2018, according to the press statement issued by the human rights organization.
The statement said that these instances of exploitation have taken place despite the Qatari authorities having established new committees intended to rapidly resolve labor disputes, as part of reforms agreed ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
“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, in the press statement. “Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life; instead many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them.”
During the research, Amnesty International followed the search for justice of more than 2,000 migrant workers working for Hamton International, Hamad bin Khaled bin Hamad and United Cleaning, after the companies had stopped paying their salaries for several months, citing financial difficulties, before ceasing operations and ending their contracts.
“Migrant workers in Qatar too often face an impossible choice between long and often fruitless efforts to seek justice or returning to their families without the money needed to support them. We are urging the Qatari authorities to fully deliver what has been promised and end the shameful reality of labor exploitation,” said Cockburn.
Qatar hosts about 2 million migrant workers, but it does not meet international labor standards, said the human rights body.
“The 2 million migrant workers that form the backbone of Qatar’s economy have the right to be treated fairly at work, and to obtain justice when they are not,” Cockburn said. “If Qatar is serious about meeting its promises to improve workers’ rights, it must provide more judges to ensure cases are heard rapidly, fully finance the compensation fund, and ensure companies that break the rules face justice.