October 6, 2022

Raven Tribune

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Demo on unpaid wages: Qatar arrests dozens of workers

Status: 08/22/2022 11:11 am

More than 60 guest workers were arrested in Qatar just months before the start of the World Cup football tournament. They protested because they had not received their salaries for several months. Some of those arrested have been deported from abroad.

Three months before the start of the World Cup soccer tournament, host country Qatar arrested at least 60 foreign workers who protested unpaid wages. Equidem Research, a consultancy, said some of those arrested have been released.

The arrests cast doubt on Qatar’s pledge to improve the treatment of the country’s many foreign workers, Chief Executive Musutafa Qadri said.

According to the Associated Press, the Arab country’s government said scores of demonstrators were arrested for violating public security laws. No further information about the arrests or deportations has been made public.

Demo in front of employer offices

Video footage posted online shows around 60 participants in a protest on August 14 outside the Doha offices of Al Bandari International Group, a conglomerate that includes construction, real estate, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. According to Equidem, some of the demonstrators have not been paid for seven months.

The Qatari government said the company did not actually pay the wages. The Department of Labor will now take action and make all failed payments.

The emirate in the Persian Gulf is always in the headlines for its exploitation of migrants. Nearly 90 percent of Qatar’s 2.5 million people are expatriates, most of them from poorer countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal or India. Almost half of them work on construction sites, many of them related to the World Cup.

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Thousands of guest workers died

British newspaper The Guardian reported last year that 6,500 foreign workers had died since Emirates was awarded the contract to host the World Cup in 2010.

Qatar introduced a reform plan in 2020 to improve working conditions for expatriates. For example, the so-called kafala employment system, which allowed employers to decide, among other things, whether workers were allowed to leave the country, was repealed.

The country also introduced a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 riyals ($300). However, critics complain that the promises have only been partially implemented. Foreign workers needed more support, especially in the pending wage dispute.