We have great news to share about our campaign to end forced labor in Qatar!
This week, Qatar made major public commitments to reform the kafala system and uphold worker rights in a 3-year plan to achieve decent work conditions for all migrant workers in the country. We commend Qatar for taking significant steps toward ending modern slavery, but we know there is still much work ahead to ensure that workers in Qatar do not face exploitation.
These commitments mean a lot for workers like Bide Majakoti, who paid high recruitment fees to travel from Nepal on the promise of a well-paid job only to be coerced to accept a different job upon arrival in Qatar, exploited in forced labor. Our collective voice helped push Qatar in the right direction, toward ensuring thousands more workers like Bide are protected every day.
Addressing the International Labour Organization on Wednesday, Qatar’s labor minister HE Dr. Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi said, “Qatar will remain mindful to guaranteeing all rights of workers and to safeguard their interests.”
Our campaign asked Qatar to place penalties on employers that force workers to take lower wages, ensure that migrant workers hold their own passports and have the freedom to leave the country or change jobs without their employer’s consent.
Qatar’s technical cooperation plan with the ILO will support the implementation of various measures to make sure workers can access their rights – addressing passport confiscation, restrictions on changing jobs and the freedom to leave the country without the consent of the employer.
Qatar also committed to introducing a minimum wage that will apply to all migrant workers. This effort, along with worker contracts being lodged directly with the government instead of employers, will help make sure no worker is forced to accept lower wages pushing them into debt bondage because of bad contracts. Furthermore, Qatar says it will continue to improve its wage protection system to ensure workers are paid on time and have recourse for wage complaints.
Though we are pleased with this news from Qatar, we have heard promises beforeand we wait to see the implementation of plans to safeguard worker protections. Nice words on paper are not enough.
Along with our partner ITUC, we will continue to monitor Qatar’s progress on reforming the kafala system through its cooperation plan with the ILO to make sure that these commitments become a reality in the lives of workers in Qatar.
Joanna, Alex and the Freedom United team
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