The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) strongly condemns the serious labor rights violations continuously committed by the Qatari Government against foreign workers as well as its failure to comply with its international obligations to protect and preserve workers’ rights by not paying more than 1,000 expatriate workers for at least three months.
Several reports by international human rights organizations have repeatedly spoken about the difficult situation experienced by expatriate workers inside Qatar. A new report shows that the employment situation in Doha is deteriorating by confirming that more than 1,000 expatriate workers working on construction projects linked to Qatar’s ruling family have not received salaries for at least three months. According to a report published on the site of the British “Wiki Tribune”, these workers live on donations and without basic supplies of water and electricity, pointing out that predominantly from India and Nepal and others from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kenya and the Philippines.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) is investigating with many international organizations the plight of these workers after they decided to strike in response to their unpaid wages for at least three months. The workers, who earn about $ 820 a month according to the Wiki Tribune, said they had not been paid since January, but worked until March after getting assurance from their company – HKH Construction – that they would receive their salaries.
On March 28th, the workers protested for their unpaid salaries after the company failed to keep its promise, and three weeks later their main supplies of water and electricity were cut off since HKH failed to pay for utility services. Since then, workers have been living on donations from the Indian Embassy and the Red Crescent. India has the lion’s share of the labor tragedy in Qatar, with more than 500 migrant workers from India, some 450 from Nepal and the others from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya and the Philippines.
A driver working for HKH told Wiki Tribune that the workers were working on three projects: a 32-storey tower, a power plant and a residential complex of 110 villas when the company stopped paying workers.
Labor rights expert in the gulf region, Nicholas McGeehan, commented on the situation by saying that “if a situation like this can’t be resolved swiftly at this most critical juncture, it does not augur well for the ability of the ILO to convince the Qatari government to process with an effective and wide-ranging reform process.”
As stated on HKH’s website, the company was founded in 1995 and has emerged to be one of the most renowned construction companies in Qatar. Major construction projects undertaken by the company includes the headquarters of Al Jazeera and the Doha Sheraton Hotel. Its founder, Hamad bin Khalid Al-Thani, who died in 2012, was a member of the royal family and head of the Qatari police, the cousin of Qatar’s former emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The company has an “A” rating in construction, which is the highest grade available under Qatar’s Building Regulations.
There are currently 1.7 million migrant workers in Qatar, most of whom have been subjected to arbitrary working conditions, according to reports by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights strongly request the Government of Qatar to promptly investigate and make sure that the unpaid workers receive their salaries, lift their injustice, respect the ILO conventions they have signed and protect the rights of expatriate workers from slavery and forced labor. The Federation further call on the Qatari authorities to ensure that any violations against foreign workers are prevented within their territory, which will go a long way to protect workers and preserve their rights.
Arab Federation for Human Rights
Geneva – May 14th, 2018