DOHA: Qatar is starting to see tangible progress on the ground in 2014, as it begins delivery of the first five proposed venues to host the first ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.
Early works have commenced on Al Wakrah Stadium, and four other stadia will be in different phases of construction throughout the year.
In advance of major construction work beginning on Qatar’s first proposed Host Venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Al Wakrah, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has released its Workers’ Welfare Standards, which have been incorporated in all of its contracts.
These standards which are aligned with Qatari Labour Law and international best practice set clear guidelines that protect the rights of workers throughout the entire chain of contracting, from recruitment to repatriation.
‘We have always believed that Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup would be a catalyst to accelerate positive initiatives already being undertaken by Qatar, which will leave a legacy of enhanced, sustainable and meaningful progress in regards to worker welfare across the country.
We already see this progress taking place across Qatar on a daily basis, and will continue to work hard to make our vision become the ever-present reality on the ground,’ said Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
In the development of its Workers’ Welfare Standards, the Supreme Committee engaged the International Labour Organisation, a leading international organisation, to look at the entire process from recruitment to living and working conditions upon arrival, and made sure to incorporate all of this into its planning ahead of any major stadium construction work.
The progress made by the Supreme Committee complements the work being undertaken by the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs (MOLSA).
In the past six months, the MOLSA has increased the number of trained labour inspectors by 30%.
Furthermore, the Ministry has conducted 11,500 spot checks in the past three months. A total of 306 companies have been classified and their performance will be published to workers and owners, setting an example for best practice in the country.
The Supreme Committee’s Standards address some of the most critical concerns highlighted in recent reports about working and living conditions of workers in Qatar’s construction sector including:
Payment of wages: the Standards require contractors to set up bank accounts for their workers, which will help facilitate payment, creating an auditable transaction system that will help the Supreme Committee verify that all workers are being paid in full and on time.
Accommodations: Comprehensive specifications for worker accommodations, setting clear guidelines for everything from the number of beds per room to a minimum standard for cleanliness and hygiene.
Enforcement: a 4-tier audit system, implemented with the support of independent third-party auditors.
Progress reports based on the audits are to be made public in order to track progress and share lessons learnt with government stakeholders and the international community.
While the Supreme Committee reserves the right to penalise contractors who are non-compliant with its mandatory Workers’ Welfare Standards, or, in extreme cases, terminate its contract with a company that is continually in breach of the Standards, a focus is being placed on working with contractors to improve standards on a continuous basis.
For situations in which contractors do not demonstrate improvement, there are legal mechanisms in all Supreme Committee contracts which allow the Supreme Committee to step in and fix the problem at the contractors’ expense.
The Supreme Committee is required to report such incidents to MOLSA and the Central Tenders Committee, jeopardising the contractor’s ability to undertake future projects in Qatar.
On January 13, 2014 the Supreme Committee’s Workers’ Welfare Committee conducted its first successful inspection of workers’ accommodation for the early works contractor for Al Wakrah Stadium.
This accommodation currently houses 38 workers, representing the total number of workers currently engaged on Supreme Committee construction projects.
Representatives from some of the largest infrastructure projects in Qatar, including the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and Qatar Foundation, are planning to meet in the coming months to discuss adopting a unified standard, in line with the government’s vision for improved social development as part of Qatar National Vision 2030.
‘We will continue to work closely with our partners to achieve practical solutions which will leave a sustainable legacy for Qatar long after 2022,’ said Farah Al-Muftah, Chairwoman of the Supreme Committee’s Workers’ Welfare Committee. (QNA)