Qatar welcomes ILO move to close labour system complaint

Published: November 14, 2017
A file photo of workers in Doha. PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of workers in Doha. PHOTO: AFP

Qatar welcomed on Tuesday a move by the International Organisation for Labour (ILO) to close a 2014 complaint against the country pertaining to its labour system.

The complaint was closed last week after Doha introduced legislation to protect workers and pledged further reforms as well as technical cooperation with the UN agency.

The unanimous decision, taken by the ILO’s Governing Body after a 45-minute meeting in Geneva, meant it will not set up an ILO commission of inquiry into alleged exploitation in the 2022 World Cup host, a rare sanction.

“The statement is an acknowledgement of the important steps the government of Qatar has taken to develop a modern labour system that is fair to employers and employees alike,” said an official statement following the closure of the complaint.

It added that the country recognises the need to improve the living and working conditions of its migrant labour force well before contractors broke ground on World Cup sites.

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“Qatar has developed a comprehensive programme of technical cooperation to ensure the reforms aligned with ILO best practice, in light of the latter’s complaint.”

Qatar signed 36 worker protection agreements with countries that provide much of its labour force, state media reported on Oct 25, weeks before the ILO meeting to decide whether to investigate it for worker abuse.

The complaint had “originated out of a deep concern about exploitation exposing almost 2 million workers to forced labour,” the workers’ group spokesperson Catelene Passchier said while addressing the ILO forum.

“While we welcome and support this agreement between ILO and Qatar, we emphasise that nice words and good intentions are not sufficient. Implementation of these intentions in law and practice is critical,” she had told the talks.

Qatar is keen to show it is tackling allegations of worker exploitation as it prepares to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, which the Gulf Arab state has presented as a showcase of its progress and development.

With additional information from Reuters

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