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Stop World Cup 2022 Exploitation

Friday, October 25, 2013

GMB Seeks Meeting With 13 Major UK Contractors Working In Qatar To Stop Exploitation Of Workers Building For 2022 World Cup

Workers paid £5 for a 15 hours day in ferocious heat with injuries and fatalities so bad that 4,000 workers will be killed before a ball is kicked in 9 year time in unless action is taken says GMB.


Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, has written to the Chief Executives of 13 UK based contractors with contracts in Qatar to build stadiums and other infrastructure leading up to the World Cup in 2022 seeking a meeting over the exploitation of migrant workers in the Gulf State. See copy of letter in notes to editors.

A meeting has been requested with the following contractors: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke, Interserve, Kier Group, Vinci, Galliford Try (Qatar), ISG Middle East, Amey, Mace, Bouygues UK, BAM and Costain.

Bert Schouwenburg says in his letter “In the world’s richest country per head of population, migrants are paid as little as £5 per day for 15 hours of work in ferocious heat. On-site injuries and fatalities are commonplace and it has been estimated that, at the current level of accidents, some
4,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in 9 years’ time.

GMB is an affiliate of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and is right behind their campaign to prevent the World Cup taking place in Qatar unless there is a dramatic improvement in workers’ rights.

We believe that UK companies have a particular responsibility to ensure that their Qatar-based employees, regardless of their nationality, and their sub-contractors’ employees enjoy terms and conditions within globally accepted standards of “decent work” as laid down by organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Consequently, I would suggest that we organise a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss a way forward.

The ITUC are contemplating a visit to Qatar in early December. GMB plan to be part of that. This may provide us with a suitable opportunity but any alternative suggestions from your side would be welcome too.”

End

Contact Bert Schouwenburg (International Officer) 07974 251 764 or 0207 391 6757 or GMB press office 07974 252 823

Notes to editors

Text of GMB letter to UK contractors sent on October 22nd, 2013.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Qatar

On behalf of GMB, I am writing to the Chief Executives of the principal UK companies with contracts in Qatar for the construction of stadiums and infrastructure projects leading up to the World Cup in 2022.

You will be aware that there has been an international outcry over the exploitation of migrant workers in the Gulf State who, in most cases, face quite appalling conditions, are treated little better than slaves and live in unacceptable, squalid accommodation. Qatar denies migrant workers the right to form or join trade unions, there is no minimum wage and, under the repressive system of kefala, they cannot even leave the country until their employer allows them to do so. In the world’s richest country per head of population, migrants are paid as little as £5 per day for 15 hours of work in ferocious heat. On-site injuries and fatalities are commonplace and it has been estimated that, at the current level of accidents, some 4,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in 9 years’ time.

GMB is an affiliate of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and is right behind their campaign to prevent the World Cup taking place in Qatar unless there is a dramatic improvement in workers’ rights.

We believe that UK companies have a particular responsibility to ensure that their Qatar-based employees, regardless of their nationality, and their sub-contractors’ employees enjoy terms and conditions within globally accepted standards of “decent work” as laid down by organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The “OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises” are quite specific on the treatment of workers and I would quote some relevant extracts thus: “Enterprises should respect the right to form or join a trade union and to bargain collectively, contribute to the effective abolition of child labour and the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, and respect the right to non-discrimination in employment and occupation… Enterprises should provide the best possible wages (which at a minimum should meet the basic needs of workers and their families), ensure occupational health and safety…”

I am pleased to say that we have the Prime Minister onside. Following an exposé of Qatar’s industrial relations environment in the Guardian newspaper, David Cameron said that they could learn from the London example when it was preparing for the 2012 Olympics and not one fatality was reported during the building of the facilities. The clear message from 10 Downing Street is that your companies have a responsibility to maintain those standards in Doha and there is no reason for that not to happen. As major players in international construction you are well placed to make an important contribution and lead the way for change.

Consequently, I would suggest that we organise a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss a way forward.

The ITUC are contemplating a visit to Qatar in early December. GMB plan to be part of that. This may provide us with a suitable opportunity but any alternative suggestions from your side would be welcome too.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future and am,

Yours sincerely, Bert Schouwenburg (International Officer)

cc Paul Kenny (General Secretary), Justin Bowden (National Officer) and Maria Ludkin (National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs)
 

 

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