4,000 migrants could be worked to death building Qatar's 2022 World Cup: union

27.09.2013 21:05

As many as 4,000 migrant workers
could die as Qatar ramps up
construction ahead of hosting the
2022 World Cup soccer tournament,
an international labor union has
warned.
The comments came after an
investigation by the U.K.’s Guardian
newspaper exposed what it said were
“appalling labor abuses” in Qatar's
preparation for hosting the soccer
tournament.
“More than 4,000 workers risk losing
their life over the next seven years as
construction for World Cup facilities
gets under way if no action is taken to
give migrant workers’ rights,” ITUC
General Secretary Sharan Burrow said
in a statement .
“The annual death toll among those
working on building sites could rise to
600 a year <>– almost a dozen a week –
unless the Doha government makes
urgent reforms.”
The international soccer players’ union,
FIFPro, said it was “deeply alarmed” by
the reports, and called on the Qatari
authorities to allow inspections.
Between 500,000 and 1 million
workers will need to be brought in
from Nepal, India and other South
Asian and African countries to
complete infrastructure for the
tournament, the ITUC said. This
represents a workforce increase of 50
percent.
The ITUC based its estimate of how
many could die in the run-up to 2022
on the mortality rate among Qatar’s
current 1.2 million Nepalese and
Indian workers, who form the majority
of the state’s population.
Officially, Qatar prohibits all forms of
forced labor, and according to a U.S.
State Department report from 2012
the Qatari government has made some
effort to enforce this law.
But the report noted that there were
"continuing indications of forced labor,
especially in the construction and
domestic labor sectors, which
disproportionately affected migrant
workers."
It said men and women often migrated
voluntarily from Nepal and India to
work as low-skilled laborers, only to
face "involuntary servitude" through
having passports and pay withheld,
and being being refused exit permits.
The Guardian said it obtained
documents that showed 44 workers
died between June 4 and August 8,
with more than half of those suffering
heart attacks.
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP - Getty Images,
file
Workers clean the stadium at the e
the 2011 Asian Cup semi-final socce
match between Australia and Uzbek
in the Qatari capital Doha.
It also said its investigation showed
evidence of forced labor, and workers
not being paid or having their ID cards
confiscated to stop them from running
away.
Although Qatar has yet to start
building stadiums for the 2022 World
Cup, it has already embarked on an
extensive infrastructure program
which it says will play an big role in
hosting the tournament.
The developers of Lusail City, one of
these construction projects, released a
statement following the Guardian story
saying it would not tolerate breaches
of labor law.
“We continually instruct our
contractors and their subcontractors
of our expectations and their
contractual obligations to both us and
individual employees,” the statement
from state-owned Qatari Dial Real
Estate Company said.
It added the report had “highlighted
potentially illegal activities employed by
one subcontractor” and it would be
referring the matter to the
“appropriate authorities.”
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee,
the body tasked with organizing the
tournament, also released a statement
saying it was "deeply concerned with
the allegations that have been made
against certain contractors/sub-
contractors working on Lusail City's
construction site and considers this
issue to be of the utmost seriousness.”
"We have been informed that the
relevant government authorities are
conducting an investigation into the
allegations,” it said.
The executive committee for FIFA,
soccer's international governing body,
will discuss the Qatar situation when it
meets in Zurich next week.