Qatar Detains Workers Protesting Late Pay Before FIFA World Cup

Qatar Detains Workers Protesting Late Pay Before FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup 2022 is all set to roll out in Qatar. Authorities don’t want to leave a single stone unturned when it comes to the preparations. So much is going on in the host country, and amid all these developments, news about foreign workers came out.

According to this news, Qatar recently arrested at least 60 foreign workers protesting for passing months without pay. Besides, they were also deported, as per the statement of an advocacy group. This news came to light when only three months left in Qatar World Cup 2022.

This move of Qatar leads to intense International scrutiny questioning its labor practices, and that too before the tournament. Qatar relies heavily on foreign labor. It is possible that things can go further.

After digging this incident deeper, the head of the labor consultancy said that the detentions cast new doubt on Qatar’s pledge to improve labor treatment. The executive director of the group Equidem quoted, “Is this really the reality coming out?”

On the other hand, the Qatar government stated that the protesters breached public safety laws. “A number of protesters were detained for breaching public safety laws.” the statement from Qatar’s government to The Associated Press on Sunday night shows the government’s side of this incidence. 

However, no information about the arrest or deportations is revealed. Amid this news, video footage surfaced showing 60 workers furious about their salaries. The protest took place on Aug. 14 outside of the Doha offices of Al Bandary International Group, a corporation that includes construction, hotels, real estate, food, and many other ventures. 

According to Equidem, some of the workers hadn’t received their salaries for seven months. The workers protesting for their salaries blocked an intersection on Doha’s C Ring Road in front of the Al Shoumoukh Tower. 

The footage shows protestors having several massive portraits of Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, confirming the details of the breach. The Qatari government stated that a privately owned Al Bandary International Group hadn’t paid salaries to the workers. Besides, they didn’t respond to requests for comment on it, nor did they connect on call.

The government added its Labor ministry would pay all the delayed salaries and benefits to the workers. Furthermore, the government stated that the company that denied the payments was already under investigation by the authorities for the non-payment of workers. They are given a deadline to clear all the payments, failing to which will lead to further action.

Qadri added that the police later arrested the workers and kept them in a detention center that had scorching heat and was devoid of air conditioning. Qadri stated that the police told if the protestors can protest in hot weather, they can sleep without air conditioning. However, the temperature reached 41 degrees Celsius this week.

One detained worker contacted Equidem from the detention center and mentioned seeing about 300 coworkers from India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nepal, and the Philippines. Some of them had been paid their salaries after the protest, whereas others hadn’t, he added. However, his statements can’t be verified based on the instances.

In the past, many Gulf countries, including Qatar, have deported foreign workers and designated residency visas for those who are employed. Besides, the right to form a union is strictly controlled and available only to Qatari citizens, according to a Washington-based advocacy group Freedom House. It also states the limited rights to assembly.

Despite being the home to the state-funded Al Jazeera satellite news network, the freedom of expression is stringently controlled in the country. When a Kenyan security guard wrote and spoke publically about the woes of the country’s migrant labor force, the Qatar government detained and later deported him.

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Qatar is going to host the FIFA Football World Cup 2022, and therefore, it is taking some crucial steps to improve its employment practices in the country. In the same endeavor, the government is removing its “kafala employment system”. 

This system ties workers to their employers, who control whether they will continue their work or they will have to leave their job and even the country.

The success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 depends upon the goodwill the government can achieve. Qatar also adopted a minimum monthly wage policy of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($275) for workers. Besides, it will also include the required food and housing allowances for employees who are not getting it directly from their employers.

Qadri, along with other activists, called on Doha to improve the policies for the workers and ensure minimal payouts along with ethical treatment. Besides, they also raised the need for protecting workers from abusive employers. 

In one of his statements, Qadri asked, “Have we all been duped by Qatar over the last several years?” This question highlights that the current reforms are a cover for the authorities allowing the existing labor practices to continue.

The 2022 World Cup will be held in November in Qatar, and football fans from all corners of the world are excited about this quadrennial sports event. Fans have already booked tickets and accommodations, and managing them is certainly a big challenge for the government. 

Additional accommodations at lower prices are made available for visitors. Among all these hassles, the news of the detained and deported workers came out as a concern. 

Regardless of the news, the fans are very excited to get a first-hand experience of their favorite teams contesting against each other. FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is the 22nd edition of the men’s FIFA World Cup tournament. 

It is scheduled to take place in 8 stadiums from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18. This tournament is also crucial because it is the first time that the Arab world is going to host the FIFA world cup.

Qatar is facing strong criticism due to the treatment of foreign workers, and the whole world is looking at the country during the FIFA World 2022 Qatar Matches.

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