Zaha Hadid Architects’ Al-Wakrah stadium, where workers have been paid less than $5 a day (Zaha Hadid Architects)

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Qatar workers paid 45p an hour as claims of abuse mount

30 July 2014 | By GCR Staff | 0 Comments

Recent efforts by the government of Qatar and charitable body the Qatar Foundation to improve the treatment of migrant workers, and to place the blame for their mistreatment on recruitment agencies in the workers’countries, have failed to stem the flow of negative stories from the emirate’s construction sites. 

Earlier this month, it was revealed in the Qatari press that hundred of workers were living on the streets of central Doha after being evicted from their homes by the state’s internal security force. It is understood that the workers were moved so that their accommodation could be demolished to make way for upmarket apartments.

The eviction provoked outrage on Twitter with some pointing out that the act was particularly reprehensible during the month of Ramadan.

Other workers have complained of not being paid for their work. Sri Lankan, Nepalese and Indian workers who went to Qatar to build offices for the organising committee of 2022 World Cup, complete with etched glass and hand-made Italian furniture, have reportedly not been paid 13 months’ wages after their employer, a contractor called Lee Trading, collapsed.

I was at al-Sadd district of Doha and got a phone call saying that the police were at our apartment. They were breaking down doors, hitting people and throwing them out of the houses– A Nepalese worker called MD Faiyaz told Doha News that the residents had received no prior warning about the eviction

And The Guardian newspaper has revealed that those workers who have been paid are on rates as little as 45p an hour.

An investigation by the paper showed that some workers on the 40,000-seat al-Wakrah stadium, designed by the British architect Zaha Hadid, have been labouring for up to 30 days a month for as little as £4.90 ($8.30) a day. This despite pledges by the tournament’s organisers to make workers’ rights “our top priority”.

Zaha Hadid Archtitects issued a joint statement with engineer Aecom saying they were “working closely with our clients to ensure that any outstanding issues are resolved”.

On Sunday, it was reported in Nepal that Qatar was willing to take as many as 180,000 workers from that country this year, and that the Nepali government was demanding a minimum wage of $330 a month—not greatly in excess of the wages uncovered by The Guardian

One contractor with long experience in Qatar told GCR in June that it paid workers approximately $600 per month, which was seen by the workers, mostly from India, as generous compared to what they would be paid at home.

Kathmandu-based E-Kantipur.com, quoting the Nepali embassy in Doha, said the Qatari government has allocated 180,000 jobs for Nepali workers this year.

Ganesh Dhakal, the acting Nepali ambassador to Qatar, said Qatar had chosen workers from his country because of their “hard work, integrity and discipline”. 

According to Kantipur, the embassy has started providing approval to companies offering a minimum monthly salary of $330 and food to initiate the hiring process.

According to the Nepalese embassy in Qatar, there are around 400,000 Nepali workers in Qatar.