CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in DOHA: Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary-general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, has insisted that the World Cup project will set new and responsible standards for workers’ welfare.

This follows international concern over the treatment of immigrant construction workers in the Gulf state including the use of the restrictive kafala system which has been condemned by international trade union and human rights observers.

Al Thawadi addressed the issue during the unveiling of plans for the first of stadium projects, the 40,000-capacity Al Wakrah Stadium south of Doha.

He said: “We are implementing a worker welfare standard into our projects. A worker welfare charter as well as a standard – as a continuation of the number of initiatives the government is already undertaking.

“In relation to that what we are doing is creating a number of standards that our contractors have to comply with; these standards have been taken from Qatari law.

“There are mechanisms provided within these standards to which will be imposed on all our contractors to ensure that they maintain the highest degree of safety and security, providing the health and dignity of every person working on any of the projects relating to 2022. For us any number [of deaths] is unacceptable and we are working to make sure that stays that way.”

Amnesty International is about to discuss a report into the migrant worker issue which is not expected to be pleasant reading for the Qatari authorities.

Al Thawadi added: “There are results on the ground, steps being taken and the wheels are in motion. There are issues to be taken on and moved forward but the first steps are there and they are very positive steps.

“The fact that the kafala system is under review by the council of ministers is a simple reflection of the fact that there are systems that need to be changed. Some of these systems were developed in a different lifetime.

“Some of these systems were developed at a different time in Qatar’s life. Today, like any law, any legal system anywhere in the world, as circumstances change and as events change the law develops and evolves itself.”