FIFA workers’ welfare top priority: Panel

 31 Jul 2014 - 2:15


DOHA: The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy is making significant progress, building and strengthening necessary systems for monitoring violations and enforcement of labour regulations, the panel said yesterday in response to The Guardian reports. 
“Since we first bid to host the FIFA World Cup we have worked tirelessly to ensure and improve the welfare of workers on 2022 FIFA World Cup projects and to be a catalyst for sustainable social progress,” it said.
While complex challenges of a globalised labour market cannot be solved overnight, the panel is making significant progress, building and strengthening necessary systems for monitoring and enforcement, it added.
“The elevated conditions we have achieved for all workers on the committee’ projects, including those of Amana, are a testament to the progress being made. 
“In addition to improved accommodations, our contractors have implemented numerous welfare improvements, including free catering, laundry services, onsite medical facilities and WiFi access, among others,” it said.
The panel “audits have verified that all workers are paid on time by electronic transfer once per month. 
However, as has been identified, there are challenges of calculation of overtime hours and payment and we are working with contractors to rectify any non-compliance.”
Amana, as one of the first contractors, was contracted to provide services prior to the introduction of the current standards. 
“Nonetheless, Amana has worked proactively to upgrade and ensure that its standards meet the panel’s stringent requirements,” the committee said.
The panel said it takes accusations of passport confiscations very seriously and that since the establishment of Workers’ Welfare Standards, it expressly forbids any contractor from confiscating the passports of its workers. 
“In the Amana contract, which was under an earlier version of the standards, workers were provided with the option of voluntarily, and only with signed consent, handing over their passports to the contractor for safekeeping, and with full access to their passports at any time. 
“Any involuntary confiscation of a passport, whether at Amana or any other contractor, is expressly forbidden and will be investigated.”
The panel has also responded to the issues raised by The Guardian and Amnesty International regarding Lee Trading. 
It said Lee Trading was never commissioned by, nor ever worked for the panel on any of its projects and the committee is a tenant at Al Bidda Tower, occupying space on 11 floors. 
“We are not the tenant of floors 38 and 39. However, we have been granted use of temporary offices on those floors while we await new office space.” 
The committee is responsible for overall building security via its security contractors, which explains why a email address could have appeared in a building access request to Lee Trading, but the panel rejected any direct connection with this firm.
“The Supreme Committee does, however, take very seriously the matter of worker welfare in Qatar. We were heavily dismayed to learn of the behaviour of Lee Trading with regard to the timely payment to its workers,” it said.
It claimed these concerns were immediately relayed to authorities when Amnesty International initially raised these issues and that majority of cases have already been settled with employees either having been repatriated home or working for other employers, especially those who chose to stay in Qatar. 
“We strongly disapprove of the behaviour of Lee Trading and its treatment of workers and will continue to press for a speedy and fair conclusion of all cases,” the committee added.THE PENINSULA