Major labour reforms on the anvil

July 21, 2014 - 3:52:56 am

DOHA: The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is mulling naming and shaming construction companies that flout summer timing rules for site workers.

Like eateries and foodstuff stores found breaching health and safety rules, construction firms not following summer work timings will face a ban for a month.

A hotline is being set up by the ministry for whistleblowers to file complaints against erring companies. Outdoor work is banned in Qatar from 11.30am until 3pm from June 15 until August 31. This is the season of sizzling heat and humidity in the region.

Meanwhile, the minimum living space for a worker in a labour accommodation is being raised to six square meters from four.

These are some of the measures Qatar is taking to improve living conditions for foreign workers and bring them on a par with global standards.

The Cabinet has approved proposals through some key amendments being made to regulations that govern labour lodgings, and working conditions. Other changes being made to regulations are regarding health and safety requirements, which are being made stricter for work sites.

A construction site that has 100 and more workers would need to have a full-time nurse. And the number of safety inspectors is being raised to 243 from 200.

The measures (some of them being implemented though amended laws) were announced by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs H E Abdulla bin Saleh Mubarak Al Khulaifi in a statement issued yesterday.

Inspectors made 4,335 field visits in May and 5,083 in June, including  raids on labour accommodations. At least 33 construction sites were closed after they were found breaching summer timing directives and health and safety rules, the statement said. 

An electronic complaint system has been launched for foreign workers in different languages, including Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, Nepali and Bengali, besides Arabic and English.

The statement also talks of labour accommodations being made for 150,000 workers and a wage protection system being launched whereby all foreign workers are to be paid salaries through bank transfers.

The ministry is also stepping efforts to coordinate with recruitment agencies in major manpower exporting countries to ensure that fair standards are in place before workers arrive here.

The ministry said it welcomed in this regard the decision of the Nepali embassy in Doha to ban 55 Nepali recruitment companies found to have been exploiting migrant workers.

“This shows how important and effective action from all parties can be,” said the minister.

The Peninsula