BY FAZEENA SALEEM
DOHA: A delegation from an international labour federation visited labour camps and work sites yesterday to check facilities.
The 18-member team from Geneva-based Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) will speak to more workers and visit more construction sites and labour camps on the concluding day of their visit to Qatar today.
The team held talks with Hussein Al Mulla, Undersecretary at the Labour Ministry, and Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee.
The team hopes to make recommendations that would include reforms in the sponsorship and exit permit system.
It has also suggested having minimum wages for workers, improving health and safety conditions, forming a committee to look after working and living conditions of workers and increase the number of work site inspectors.
The delegation met about 50 workers of different nationalities yesterday and will hold a press briefing this morning.
The National Human Rights Committee is facilitating the delegation in its visits to labour camps and construction sites.
Speaking to The Peninsula, Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of the BWI and head of the delegation, insisted on visiting more construction sites and labour camps besides those they visited in the Ras Laffan Industrial City.
“We have come here not to criticise the government, we have come here to assess the situation and we have concrete recommendations,” said Yuson.
“It’s important for us to see sites as we are a construction federation and we know if health and safety mechanisms are in place and we want to talk to workers and know about their problems,” he added.
The delegation has also suggested the ministry to get International Labour Organisation (ILO) to investigate the accuracy of facts mentioned by the Western media in their reports on migrant workers in Qatar.
“The proper venue is ILO, it’s a United Nations body. The result of an ILO probe will be more credible.”
He said he asked the Labour Minister to invite ILO for a high-level fact-finding mission and the minister replied that it was a good idea.
The BWI mission was planned in May as the organisation visits countries preparing for international sports events.
According to Yuson, BWI has experience in supporting workers in many countries and has been able to help increase their wages in Brazil and South Africa and improve their living conditions.
“We have been involved in promoting decent work in the World Cup in South Africa, and workers there got 12 percent wage increase. In Brazil last year we were able to get 20 percent wage increase, and improve work and living conditions,” he explained.