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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unions Press Qatar On Inhuman Labor Conditions


Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup is being challenged on multiple fronts with trade unions demanding that the Gulf state prove that migrant workers building infrastructure for the tournament are not subject to inhuman conditions.

The focus on labour conditions comes as Qatar is fending off mounting allegations that it employed bribery to win its World Cup bid and days after Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national and senior world soccer executive, was suspended by world football body FIFA on suspicion of corrupt practices.

In a report released in advance of this week’s International Labour Conference in Geneva, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the world’s largest trade union, and Building Workers International (BWI), charged that the working and living conditions of mostly Asian migrant labour being used to build nine stadiums in 10 years as Qatar seeks to be the first Arab country to host the World Cup are unsafe and unregulated.

The unions called on FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Qatar’s FIFA delegate Mohamed bin Hammam to rectify these conditions.
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“A huge migrant labour force, with very little rights, no access to any unions, very unsafe practices and inhuman living conditions will be literally putting their lives on the line to 
deliver the 2022 World Cup,” ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow ITUC, said in a statement.

BWI secretary general Ambet Yuson charged that Qatar’s “ability to deliver the World Cup is totally dependent on severe exploitation of migrant labour, which we believe to be barely above forced labour conditions.”

Qatar beat the US, Australia, South Korea and Japan to win the 2022 World Cup at a ceremony hosted in Zurich in December. The country will invest $88 billion in infrastructure for the games, according to Enrico Grino, Qatar National Bank’s assistant general manager and head of project finance.

As part of its bid, Qatar pledged to build nine stadiums and refurbish three others. Each will use solar-powered cooling technology in a country where summer temperatures rise as high as 50 degrees Celsius. 

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