BRUSSELS/NEW YORK: The International Labour Organisation is maintaining the possiblity of commissioning an inquiry into Qatar’s kafala employment system despite the Gulf state’s insistence that it is being dismantled.

A meeting in Geneva of the ILO’s governing council rejected a proposal by Sudan and the United Arab Emirates to kick the issue into the long grass.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the highly-critical International Trade Union Confederation, said later: “Qatar is on notice and has until November when the ILO will revisit this case.

“The government has refused any serious reform in the years since it was awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and ILO delegates have rejected the false and misleading claims made by Qatar in its report to the ILO this month.

“There is still hope for the more than 2m migrant workers in Qatar, many of them trapped there and forced to work against their will.”

The ITUC claims that foreign workers still need permission from their employers to change jobs or leave the country under the exit permit system.

However the Supreme Committee charged with organising the World Cup has insisted that its worker care statutes are the most extensive in the Middle East. It has reported that a number of foreign companies have been sanctioned for failing to uphold the standards demanded.

International pressure groups complain that these regulations are not being applied to general construction projects to develop local infrastructure which will, of necessity, serve to help enable the World Cup hosting.

# # # #