BRUSSELS: The European Parliament has voted in support of increasingly powerful demands for the government of Qatar to revolutionise its laws on workers’ rights writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
An emergency resolution followed up critical reaction from the international trades union movement, human rights organisations and world federation FIFA.
Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022 and European Members of Parliament called for the speedy adoption of a draft law on domestic workers and urged the Qatari authorities to stop detaining individuals for “running away” from their employers.
Amnesty International has reported on how some workers are exposed to dangerous working conditions, poor living standards and the non-payment of wages.
Further focus on Qatar’s medieval tied-employment, kafala system has been established by the case of the ‘trapped’ footballer, Zahir Belounis.
MEPs noted that at least 500,000 more migrant workers were expected in Qatar to accelerate work in preparation for the 2022 Cup and urged FIFA to send a clear and strong message to Qatar to prevent the preparations for the event being overshadowed by allegations of forced labour.
“We cannot allow the 2022 World Cup to be built on slavery,” said lawmaker Hannes Swoboda, head of the Socialist group in the parliament.
Barbara Lochbihler, chair of the parliament’s human rights committee, said: “FIFA must be reminded that it cannot continue to carry on with business-as-usual and brush the major human rights concerns in Qatar under the table.
“It must belatedly take concrete steps to ensure the preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar do not lead to further human rights violations.”
The parliament appealed to European firms involved in building stadiums or other infrastructure projects in Qatar “to provide working conditions that are in line with international human rights standards.”
In a 35-22 vote with four abstentions, the parliament insisted the alleged abuses should be fully investigated. It plans to send a fact-finding mission to Qatar next year.
On Wednesday, FIFA president Sepp Blatter criticised the conditions of workers in Qatar as unacceptable, as football’s governing body called for concrete steps by March to resolve the issue.
Qatar has said its labour laws are being amended, and that government inspectors are to receive more powers to enforce the legislation.