Doha: As a result of Amnesty’s report, “Reality Check 2021: A Year to the 2022 World Cup”, the Ministry of Labour issued a statement denying claims that labour reforms have not led to significant improvements on the ground for migrant workers.
The statement is as follows:
Qatar rejects Amnesty’s assertion that labour reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.
Since barriers were removed in September 2020, 242,870 workers have successfully changed jobs, but Amnesty fails to document any of their stories. This is on top of the more than 400,000 workers who have benefitted from salary increases under the new minimum wage.
More than 300,000 workers have left Qatar for other countries without an exit permit since 2018. Over 96 per cent of Qatar’s eligible workers are now protected from wage theft by its Wage Protection System. With the opening of visa centres in countries that send workers to Qatar, exploitative practices have been significantly reduced.
To ensure workers’ safety and prosecute employers who violate the law, the Qatari government has also strengthened enforcement measures. The Ministry of Labour employs more inspectors each year. As a result, they are able to thoroughly investigate working conditions and refer violators to labour courts for sentencing.
An estimated 35,280,2021 worksites and accommodations have been inspected, and 13,724 violations have been sanctioned with site closures, fines, and imprisonment. In addition, labour inspectors visited 4,840 sites to make sure employers and employees were aware of the new laws.
The number of companies found in violation of the law increases every year. It will take time to change every company’s behaviour through systemic reform. Companies are being sent a clear message that violations will not be tolerated by the government.
In order to provide better conditions for migrant workers in Qatar, the Qatari government engages in collaborative and constructive dialogue with international partners and critics.
Qatar believes that dialogue and engagement are the most effective ways to achieve labour reform. Qatar will thus continue to work constructively with a wide range of labour experts and practitioners despite Amnesty’s criticisms. The progress we’ve already made will continue to be built upon by this approach.