DOHA: Challenges linked to unethical recruitment practices faced by migrant workers and other problems faced by labourers were highlighted in a lecture organised by Qatar Foundation’s Health, Safety, Security and Environment Directorate.
The lecture, ‘Sourcing Migrant Workers: Challenges and Recommendations’ aimed at enhancing migrant workers’ living and working conditions.
Dr Ray Jureidini, of QF’s Workers Welfare Initiative outlined challenges linked to unethical recruitment practices such as having to pay bribes to employment agents, not seeing contracts or having contracts altered. Other problems include delayed payments or payment deductions and overcrowded or improper living conditions.
Dr Jureidini said, “QF carried out a comprehensive study last year to ensure that migrant workers get fair employment treatment. The study examined all stages of the migration cycle, from recruitment to repatriation, and found that implementing certain procedures could help improve conditions and prevent exploitation.
“These include setting a minimum wage, standardising employment contracts, and organising an outreach campaign in workers’ countries to endorse principles of ethical recruitment.”
The study interviewed 148 workers from the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. They represented a random sample from 1,290,000 workers, mainly employed in construction and service industries.
Last April, QF launched a pioneering initiative, Immigrant Workers’ Welfare Standards, to protect workers’ rights. It is based on Qatari Labour Law and best international practice.
The lecture was part of an ongoing initiative between QF’s Capital Projects Facilities Management Division and Centre for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), which is part of QF for Education, Science and Community Development.
Prof Tariq Ramadan, CILE Managing Director, praised QF for its work and said the Immigrant Workers’ Welfare Standards initiative represents an important step that must be adopted to move in the right direction.
He said, “Moral duty dictates that this issue must not be ignored. We must be impartial to take self-criticism. We need to set priorities and address any shortcomings. Corruption and human rights violations are against Islamic principles and ethical standards. We need to teach people that such practices are unacceptable on religious and moral grounds.”
QF also signed the Migrant Workers Welfare Charter in October 2012. It endorses QF’s belief that dignified living and working conditions are essential to unlocking human potential and critical to raising the quality of life for all workers in Qatar.
QF intends to set a benchmark for the rest of the country to encourage everyone to support efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy centred on the well-being of the community at large.