Posted on April 02, 2016

The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has termed the tone of some of Amnesty International’s latest findings “misleading”, saying many of the issues mentioned had been addressed much before they were raised by the human rights body. The SC has also emphasised its commitment towards the welfare and safety of workers involved in World Cup projects, adding that some companies involved in malpractices were blacklisted and banned from subsequent World Cup projects.

SC chief Hassan al-Thawadi said its commitment to reform was “clear and steadfast” and reiterated that no workers had died on World Cup projects. Relevant reforms had been introduced to address concerns raised by the report, even before the committee knew about it. These included wage protection, improved accommodation, and sanctions against companies named in the report including the termination of Seven Hills’ contract. “We have always maintained this World Cup will act as a catalyst for change - it will not be built on the back of exploited workers,” said the committee in a statement. “We wholly reject any notion that Qatar is unfit to host the World Cup.”

Below is the complete text of the SC statement issued last night:

“The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) is committed to ensuring the health, safety and well-being of every worker on World Cup projects. We have maintained a constructive working relationship with labour organisations, including Amnesty International, to achieve these goals. However, the tone of Amnesty International’s latest assertions paint a misleading picture and do nothing to contribute to our efforts.

“Amnesty International’s investigation was limited to just four companies out of more than 40 currently engaged on Khalifa International Stadium - Eversendai, Seven Hills, Blue Bay and Nakheel Landscapes. The conditions reported were not representative of the entire work force on Khalifa. “We acknowledge that Amnesty identified challenges in worker conditions existing during early 2015. But as the result of the Supreme Committee’s continued enforcement and monitoring efforts, many of the issues raised had been addressed by June of 2015, months before the publication of Amnesty’s report. 

“In June 2015 – seven months before Amnesty contacted us – Nakheel Landscapes had undergone a comprehensive rectification process, and are one of the most compliant companies on site. Eversendai, although having gone through a significant rectification process, have been banned from subsequent World Cup projects until they can demonstrate sustainable improvements. “Seven Hills and Blue Bay have not worked on World Cup Projects since June 2015 and are no longer eligible to work on future projects, until they demonstrate they are compliant with our standards.

“Amnesty has acknowledged the SC’s Workers’ Welfare Standards work. We have always maintained this World Cup will act as a catalyst for change – it will not be built on the back of exploited workers. We wholly reject any notion that Qatar is unfit to host the World Cup.” 

In a separate statement to the media following the latest Amnesty International report, the Government Communications Office said that Qatar remained committed “to the ongoing, systematic reform of labour laws”. “The Government of Qatar considers the welfare of our guest workers a top priority and is committed to the ongoing, systematic reform of Qatar’s labour laws,” the statement said. “Our goal is to create a legacy of improved conditions for workers in Qatar and to set the standard for both labour rights and human rights in the Gulf region. We acknowledge the progress that has been made by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy,” it said.

“To that end, we are well aware that our efforts are a work-in-progress, and we welcome the efforts Amnesty and other NGOs are making to help us identify areas for further improvement. “Though many of the points raised by Amnesty have already been addressed through recent legislative changes, we are concerned by a number of allegations contained within the report. The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs intends to investigate the contractors named in the report.”

The government has been continuing to reform its labour system. New laws have recently been enacted – and significant efforts have been made to strengthen the enforcement of these laws – in an effort to protect the labour rights and human rights of Qatar’s expatriate labour force. In October 2015, HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued sweeping reforms of the nation’s entry, exit and residency requirements. Once enacted, the new laws will enable greater freedom of movement and will enable workers to submit exit permit requests directly to the Ministry of Interior if a dispute with their employer occurs.

source: Gulf Times