Qatar: labour minister's dismissal of worker compensation campaign 'hugely disappointing'
Ali bin Samikh al-Marri calls campaign for worker remediation programme ‘publicity stunt’ in AFP interview
Recent report shows that much-needed labour reforms are still unfinished business
‘If the will is there, a solution could be found that would transform the lives of so many workers’ - Steve Cockburn
Responding to the Qatari labour minister Ali bin Samikh al-Marri dismissing as “a publicity stunt” Amnesty International’s campaign to compensate migrant workers for the abuses they’ve suffered while working in Qatar, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice, said:
“It is hugely disappointing to hear calls for greater compensation be dismissed.
“The vast majority of migrant workers who have now returned home to countries like Nepal or Bangladesh are unable to access Qatar’s current scheme.
“There will be no compensation for them to reclaim stolen wages or illegal recruitment fees, let alone provide much needed financial support for those families who have lost a loved one.
“While the money paid out this year is undoubtedly important, Qatar’s minister saying that their door is open to workers who have suffered abuses is insufficient, and a much more proactive approach is needed to ensure that justice is within reach for everyone.
“Qatar must expand its existing compensation funds or establish a new one - no-one is saying it is easy, but if the will is there, a solution could be found that would transform the lives of so many workers.”
Earlier today, in an interview with AFP Ali bin Samikh al-Marri dismissed Amnesty’s compensation campaign while also saying his ministry’s “door is open”, saying that “if there is a person entitled to compensation who has not received it, they should come forward and we will help them”.
Reforms are unfinished business
In May, Amnesty and a coalition of organisations launched a campaign calling on Qatar and FIFA to establish a comprehensive remediation programme to compensate migrant workers who had suffered abuses in the preparation and delivery of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Since then, the call has garnered the support of many FAs and World Cup sponsors, and FIFA’s senior leadership have acknowledged the importance of compensation, though FIFA itself is yet to publicly commit to supporting the remediation programme.
Since 2017, the Qatari authorities have put in place measures to protect workers from wage theft and enhance access to justice, but these do not cover all workers or address abuses in the years before the systems were established. Crucially, significant implementation and enforcement gaps remain. For example, workers who have already left Qatar cannot access labour committees or a fund established to pay them when their employers fail to do so.
Last month, Amnesty published a major report - Unfinished Business - showing that abuses against migrant workers remain rife in Qatar, with thousands of workers across all projects still facing issues such as delayed or unpaid wages, denial of rest days, unsafe working conditions, barriers to changing jobs and limited access to justice, while the deaths of thousands of workers remain uninvestigated.