News reports have revealed abuses of migrant workers in Qatar, ranging from 60-plus hour workweeks, hazardous working conditions, and poor living conditions.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup construction under way, including a metro system and soccer stadiums, there has been a surge of migrant workers entering the country, adding to the already giant population that represent the highest ratio of migrants to citizens of any country in the world.
Migrants, many from Southeast Asia, report having their passports confiscated when entering the country, restricting movement, and have reported “slave-like” conditions, earning less than $4,000 per year and working 12-15 hour days in sweltering temperatures above 100 degrees.
Many have died from heart attacks, likely from heat exhaustion. Workers claim that bed bugs are common within labor camps, and the norm is 10 beds crammed into a tiny room.
Many problems stem from Kalafa, a restrictive sponsorship system that requires employer approval to change jobs, leave the country, and prohibits lobbying for workers rights.
Under Kalafa, workers pay high “recruitment fees” to be brought to Qatar, often forcing work without compensation to pay off debt.
Qatari officials have promised reform and some laws have been passed, including laws regarding minimum wages, limited working hours, and labor unions, but are often ignored by employers and not enforced by the government.
FIFA has a responsibility to ensure reform occurs, including a push for reform of Kalafa, must ensure appropriate mechanisms are in place for new laws to be enforced, and must continually monitor the situation.
The World Cup will be an integral part of the economy of Qatar over the next nine years and beyond, but workers must not be sacrificed for economic benefit. With help of FIFA, many of these issues can be rectified.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles 3245 had its annual children’s shopping spree on Sunday. We took 105 children to Wal-Mart.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to all the volunteers that helped make this possible — too many inviduals to name.
Chairman, FOE Christmas Children’s Shopping Spree