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Qatar: Report finds excessive World Cup work hours

Some migrant labourers building stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are working up to 18 hours per day, according to a report conducted by Impactt

The above image is for illustrative purposes only.
The above image is for illustrative purposes only.

Some migrant labourers building stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are working up to 18 hours per day, which is more than twice the maximum amount permitted by law.

This is one of the findings from the first Annual External Compliance Report of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s Workers’ Welfare Standards. The study, which was commissioned by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), was conducted by London-headquartered ethical trade consultancy, Impactt.

In addition to excessive working hours, the report found that more than half of the 10 contracting companies surveyed failed to give employees one day off per week, according to Arabian Business.

Some labourers had worked 148 days in a row without a day off.

The report stated: “Impact identified critical non-compliances at six of 10 contractors audited.

“These cases relate to excessive working hours [of more than 72 total hours per week,] or excessive overtime hours [of more than two hours of overtime per day],” it added.

The worst case of non-compliance identified by the report related to labourers working 18 hours per day, six days a week.

Qatari labour law allows labourers to work eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week. Two hours of overtime per day are also permitted, providing employees receive at least one rest day per week.

The report also found that almost 80% of the 253 workers interviewed reported that they had paid recruitment fees in their home countries to work in Qatar, and that 85% were scared to raise welfare-related issues in case they were sacked.

Nevertheless, the report stated that Qatar’s SC had made “significant progress” since introducing Workers’ Welfare Standards in 2014, and that contractors working on World Cup stadiums had demonstrated an “impressive ability to improve”.

In a statement published on SC’s website, secretary general HE Hassan Al Thawadi, said: “We have always believed that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be a catalyst to accelerate positive initiatives already being undertaken in Qatar, leaving a legacy of enhanced, sustainable, and meaningful progress around workers’ welfare. While the findings clearly state there are challenges, they also demonstrate our continued commitment to this process.

“We will do everything necessary to ensure the issues identified are dealt with promptly,” he added. “We respect the diligence shown by Impactt during their audits, and the constructive observations and recommendations made.”

SC said that in 2017, its Workers’ Welfare Division aims to boost efforts to further enhance the recruitment process, introduce innovative cooling technologies to supplement existing summer working procedures, and further enhance enforcement capabilities.

In compiling the report, Impactt carried out two quarterly rounds of initial compliance audits, each comprising five contractors, in August and November 2016. In January 2017, it revisited the five contractors audited in August 2016 to understand and verify improvements that had been made.

The company selected which contractors to audit, and which workers to interview, independently of SC. The sample of businesses surveyed represented all tiers of contractors working on SC projects, according to Impactt.

In total, Impact interviewed 253 workers from 10 contractors.

Approximately 15,000 labourers are currently engaged in SC projects.

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