Breakthrough will see an end to Kafala System in Qatar - ITUC looks forward to a World Cup with workers' rights

10/25/2017 12:51 pm ET

To all groups, journalists and individuals who have supported an end to the system of modern slavery known as the kafala system I can only say thank you on behalf of two million migrant workers.

ITUC affiliates who have been relentless campaigners and Nepal’s GEFONT, global unions like BWI and ITF and others who supported workers on the ground can feel very satisfied to see their hopes for their brothers and sisters now able to be realised.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have played a significant role with their incisive investigative reports and people like CEO Jaimie Fuller of Skins who is a relentless campaigner for rights in sport, New FIFA Now and football stars like Abdes Ouaddou, can all share in the success of a long campaign.

Negotiations with the Qatar Government have resulted in a set of reforms that will normalise industrial relations.

This signals the start of real reforms in Qatar and puts the country on the pathway to meeting its international legal obligations on workers’ rights.

Following discussions in Doha there is a clear government commitment to normalise industrial protections for migrant workers including the following;

• Employment contracts will be lodged with a government authority to prevent contract substitution, ending the practice of workers arriving in the country only to have their contract torn up and replaced with a different job, often on a lower wage.

• Employers will no longer be able to stop their employees from leaving the country.

• A minimum wage will be prescribed as a base rate covering all workers, ending the race-based system of wages.

• Identification papers will be issued directly by the State of Qatar, and workers will no longer rely on their employer to provide their ID card without which workers can be denied medical treatment.

• Workers’ committees will be established in each workplace, with workers electing their own representatives.

• A special disputes resolution committee with a timeframe for dealing with grievances will be a centre piece for ensuring rapid remedy of complaints.

The ITUC has consistently called for Qatar to end modern slavery and called on the government to abolish the system of exit permits, to put in place a minimum wage to end the race-based wage differences, to allow workers representation, to eliminate contract substitution and to put in place a grievance procedure to settle disputes.

These conditions have been met, and we congratulate the Emir and Qatar’s Labour Minister for their leadership in taking responsibility to modernise their industrial relations system.

We now look forward to a football World Cup in 2022 with workers’ rights that we can all support.

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