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DOHA: Reiterating its commitment to international labour rules, Qatar hopes to set up an independent, high-profile committee to protect the rights of private sector workers, a vast majority of whom are foreigners.
To be known as labour committee, it will function independently of the Ministry of Labour.
The panel will fight for the rights of workers and help them get justice from their sponsors in disputes, as well as provide legal aid to workers or their dependents to seek compensation for work-related injuries and deaths.
The State Cabinet has given its nod to form the committee, which will be working in accordance with Qatar’s labour law, principles of human rights and regulations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The panel will have a minimum of 50 members from among private sector and government employees, seven of whom will be elected to a board of directors.
The aim will be to ensure that private sector workers’ rights are protected and those in dispute with their employers or having suffered injuries are provided legal assistance to seek compensation.
“The idea of setting up the panel is to ensure an ideal work environment in the country,” said the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour, Hussein Al Mulla.
Talking about housemaids, he defended the demand that they be given a day off in a week, but said fixing their working hours to eight in a day was not justified. “Maids don’t work for eight hours a day,” he said point-blank.
There is no need for a law for housemaids, Al Mulla said, dashing all hopes of seeing a legislation to regulate the domestic labour sector. “Since there is a contract signed between a maid and her employer, a law isn’t needed,” he argued.
About weekly rest, he said it was a maid’s right but added that the choice of the day should be left to be decided mutually by her and her employers.
He said the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani have issued directives that efforts be intensified to provide jobs to nationals in public and private sectors.
The post of human resource director in all companies (including banks and insurance firms), in which either the government or Qatari citizens have a share, must be given to citizens.
Al Mulla said that his ministry was taking the issue of job nationalisation in the private sector seriously and had asked private companies to provide the ministry with their manpower requirements with all details over the next five years.
A monitoring committee at the ministry he heads has been holding meetings with private companies to steamroll the Qatarisation plan. The official said it was a matter of concern that despite the State Cabinet having ruled several years ago that 20 percent of jobs in the private sector be reserved for citizens, some companies were ignoring the directive.
“We will take stringent action against these companies. They will have to face the music for defying the Cabinet decision.”
The ministry, Al Mulla told Al Sharq in an interview yesterday, had discussed with the private sector the issue of salary and perks for Qatari employees and told them that wages must be on a par with those in the government sector.
“The private sector has no excuse now. They used to earlier say that Qataris didn’t know English. That excuse can’t work anymore because Qataris do know English.”
His ministry, he said, was holding meetings with high school students and urging them to opt for scientific and technical education and pursue studies up to the university level.