'2022 Qatar World Cup has been a model on how to improve workers' welfare'

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Goal Arabian
The CEO of the 2022 World Cup explains how the hosts are trailblazing a new path towards workers' welfare...

When Qatar were awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2011, the Middle-East nation went full steam ahead in developing world class infrastructure for the global extravaganza.

Six new stadiums were designed and are under construction while two were expanded and upgraded by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) which is responsible for infrastructure for the tournament.

The stadiums were designed to meet the highest sustainability and environmental standards and are equipped with pioneering cooling technology to help players deal with the heat. However, as Qatar fast-tracked the construction with a lot of workforce recruited to do the same, there was international scrutiny with regards to their welfare.

Human rights groups had raised the issue of treatment of construction workers involved in the projects and their rights. But the SC adopted several initiatives to ensure improvement in their conditions, welfare and raise awareness of their rights.

In fact, Qatar had enacted a law change that allowed the majority of migrant workers to leave the state without permission from their employers in what was a landmark development.

CEO of the 2022 World Cup, Nasser Al Khater, explained to Goal that the practices adopted to the SC have been a catalyst for change.

"The issue of workers welfare and rights was something that was recognised early on and it was an area of focus from the very beginning," he said. "If we look at the progress that has been made by the state of Qatar, the Supreme Committee - since winning the World Cup [bid] in 2011 - we can say that the World Cup has been a catalyst for this change.

"I think it has worked for the better."

Al Khater feels that Qatar should be proud of the way they responded to the criticisms surrounding the workers' welfare.

"We see that a lot of legislation has changed, we see that a lot of the working culture has changed and we see that the approach of the employers towards employees has changed. I mean, there are many things that the country should be proud of, whether it is changing of housing standards, making sure that the wage protection system that has been put in place to make sure that everybody's wages are paid on time - otherwise the employer or the company would be penalised."

Al Khater also explains how the SC's policy of helping workers who have been taken advantage of unfairly has been adopted as a model by many other organisations.

Qatar World Cup 2022

"Also, from the latest initiatives that have made sure that the workers had to pay unfairly to agents that took advantage of their need to find work, the state of Qatar and the Supreme Committee in particular has made sure that anybody who provided proof that they had paid agents exorbitant amounts that they would be paid back. Something around the range of five million [US] dollars has been paid back to workers that worked for the Supreme Committee.

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"It is a model that now we feel is going to be emulated by large semi-government organisations to make sure that the workers are paid and that these agent fees will be paid back."

Qatar are leading the way in the region when it comes to improving the rights and standards of workers, states Al Khater.

"As a whole, over the last eight-to-nine years, Qatar has been a model of how you can change and improve. Right now, I think it is leading the way in the Middle-East. If there is a will, there is a way to improve workers' rights and standards."

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