Posted on January 13, 2014

Qatar Foundation’s Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Directorate recently organised a lecture with the aim of enhancing migrant workers’ living and working conditions.

This comes as part of an ongoing initiative between Qatar Foundation’s Capital Projects Facilities Management Division and the Centre for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), also part of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

The lecture,titled “Sourcing Migrant Workers: Challenges and Recommendations”took place at Education City’s LAS Building and was presented by Dr Ray Jureidini, of Qatar Foundation’s Workers Welfare Initiative.Dr Jureidini described the challenges linked to unethical recruitment practices faced by migrant workers such as having to pay bribes to employment agents, not seeing contracts or having contracts altered. Other problems include delayed payments or payment deductions as well as overcrowded or improper living conditions.

Dr Jureidini said, “Qatar Foundation carried out a comprehensive study last year with the aim of ensuring that all migrant workers get fair employment treatment. The study examined all stages of the migration cycle, from recruitment to repatriation and found that implementing certain procedures could help improve conditions and prevent exploitation. These include setting a minimum wage, standardising employment contracts, and organising an outreach campaign in the home countries of workers to endorse the principles of ethical recruitment.”

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The study had interviews with 148 workers from five countries, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. The 148 workers represent a random sample from a total of 1,290,000 migrant workers, mainly employed in construction and other service industries.Last April, Qatar Foundation launched a pioneering initiative, Immigrant Workers’ Welfare Standards, which focuses on protecting workers’ rights. The initiative is based Qatari Labour Law and best international practice.

Professor Tariq Ramadan, CILE’s Managing Director,praised Qatar Foundation for the work it is doing in this area saying that the Immigrant Workers’ Welfare Standards initiative represents an important step that must be adopted to move in the right direction.

Prof Ramadan said, “Moral duty dictates that this issue must not be ignored. We must be impartial enough to take self-criticism. We need to set priorities and address any shortcomings.Corruption and human rights violations are against Islamic principles and ethical standards. We need to teach people that such practices are completely unacceptable on religious and moral grounds.”

Qatar Foundation also signed the Migrant Workers Welfare Charter in October 2012. The Charter endorses Qatar Foundation’s belief that dignified living and working conditions are essential to unlocking human potential and critical to raising the quality of life for all workers in Qatar.Qatar Foundation intends to set a benchmark for the rest of the country to encourage everyone to support efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy that is centred on the well-being of the community at large.