Image via ITUC

ITUC: “7,000 construction workers will die in Qatar before 2022 World Cup”

18 December 2015 | By Joe Quirke 2 Comments

A report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has estimated that 7,000 workers will die before the first ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, criticised Qatar in the foreword to the report for refusing to make public the true loss of life among migrant workers, or the real causes of their deaths. 

“Qatar’s labour laws are ruinous for workers. All the government has done is to codify slavery. Employers can now even lend out workers to another employer without the worker’s consent for up to a year”– Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

She said: “By analysing Qatar’s own statistics and health reports over the past three years, previous reports of 4,000 workers dying by 2022 are a woeful underestimate. Qatari hospital emergency departments are receiving 2,800 patients per day – 20% more from 2013 to 2014.”

“Every CEO operating in Qatar is aware that their profits are driven by appallingly low wage levels – wages that are often based on a system of racial discrimination – and that these profits risk safety, resulting in indefensible workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.”

Estimates for spending on infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup are as high as $220bn, however, the ITUC says workers at the Khalifa Stadium can earn as little as $1.50 an hour.

Burrow said: “This crisis goes beyond the borders of Qatar. It involves companies across the world who are profiting from the kafala labour system which enslaves workers.

“It is estimated that more than 40% of the world’s top 250 contractors are participating in projects in Qatar. Shareholders with investments in 14 different stock exchanges are exposed to the profits using modern day slavery under kafala.

“Qatar’s labour laws are ruinous for workers. All the government has done is to codify slavery. Employers can now even lend out workers to another employer without the worker’s consent for up to a year”

The ITUC says the Qatari government is still refusing legal reform and is calling on companies and the government to:

  • Give workers exit visas immediately and without condition
  • Allow workers to change jobs
  • Allow workers collective bargaining rights
  • Establish a minimum living wage rate for all migrants
  • In the absence of effective government labour inspection or labour court, ensure fair and effective inspection of all working conditions.

The ITUC adds that FIFA has “failed to exert any real pressure” on Qatar and wants the body to put workers’ rights at the centre of 2022 World Cup preparations.

Qatar has faced continued accusations of labour violations since it was awarded the World Cup in 2010.

Read the full report here.

Image via ITUC