Top labour body praises Qatar leadership for bold reforms

 09 Nov 2017 - 14:00

Top labour body praises Qatar leadership for bold reforms
(File photo). Baher Amin © The Peninsula

By Pramod Prabhakaran / The Peninsula Online

Doha: In a boost to the labour reforms being introduced by Qatar, a top official of ITUC has heaped praise on the leadership of the country for making the life of migrant workers better.

In a small video published on social media, Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), was seen praising Qatar for the bold labour reforms the country has started to implement.

She lauded the courage showed by the Minister backed by the Emir and the Prime Minister in introducing the path breaking reforms.

“We have a new era in Qatar. This is a great day for migrant workers. It is a proud day for Qatar too. We are fully with you in implementation,” she said in the video.

In the video she also send a message to the Gulf neighbours Suaid Arabia and UAE to follow the footsteps of the “courageous” leadership of Qatar.

“We of course have a message to your neighbours. It is time now for Saudi and UAE to follow the courageous leadership of Qatar and build their new development in their countries by giving rights to migrant workers.”

Recent years saw Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs initiated a sweeping new program to upgrade workers’ housing by creating modern accommodations for the nations migrant

labourers. A total of nine new labour accommodations that will house more than 340,000 guest workers are close to completion at sites throughout the country. 

Qatar has also increased health care facilities with the construction of three modern hospitals and four new health centres for the nations migrant workers. 

Additionally, the government inaugurated a new labour contract system, with a Wage Protection System put in place to facilitate electronic transfer of workers’ pay. 

As part of a new draft bill, Qatar announced plans to introduce a minimum wage and allow the monitoring of labour practices by trained inspectors last month. 

H E Issa Saad al-Nuaimi, Qatar's labour minister, said that a support fund would ensure overdue wages were paid to workers.

The Government has also engaged with NGOs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation to establish best practices for labour policies and has pledged to implement the highest standards for migrant labour in the region.

“Migrant workers want to work in your countries. They want to help the Gulf States develop. So we are very proud to stand with Qatar and say this is an historic day, it is a new era for the migrant workers. You have broken the kafala system and your leadership is very much appreciated,” Sharan Burrow added.

Yesterday, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) closed the complaint against Qatar in recognition to the progress that has been made by Qatar which introduced legislation amendments on labour law to protect rights of workers and pledged further reforms as well as technical cooperation with the concerned UN bodies. 

“The ILO welcomes the commitment of Qatar to engage in substantive cooperation with the Organization for the promotion and protection of workers’ rights, and looks forward to the successful implementation of the cooperation programme over the next three years,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Luc Cortebeeck, Chairperson of the Governing Body, said: “The transformation of this complaint into a real commitment by the Government of Qatar to make positive change on the ground for all workers is a very encouraging development. We celebrate this moment for Qatar and its two million migrant workers.”  

Qatar has also signed 36 agreements with countries that provide much of its labour force to protect worker’s rights and regulate their recruitments in line with the new laws introduced as part of the reform process. 

ILO pointed out that the cooperation programme aims to improve employment conditions and recruitment practices for migrant workers, ensure timely payment of wages, strengthen labour inspection and occupational safety and health standards, enhance protection from forced labour, and replace the kafala system with a contractual employment relation. 

ILO’s Ryder signed a partnership agreement with Minister of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs of Qatar, H E Dr Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, for a three-year technical cooperation project. “The ILO welcomes the commitment of Qatar to engage in substantive cooperation with the Organization for the promotion and protection of workers’ rights.”