The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be hosted in Qatar and the construction on hotels and stadiums has already begun. This internationally-renowned sporting event will boost Qatari infrastructure, economy, and national spirit. However, groups like the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) claim that thousands of migrant workers will die before construction is finished, and have called for policies that will prevent the exploitation of these workers.
Many migrant workers from countries like India, Nepal and Sri Lanka have been entering Qatar for employment, joining the already 1.2 million migrant workers present in this country. Although many migrant workers are needed to prepare Qatar for the World Cup, the current system of employment may mean that many of these workers will never return home.
Unless reforms are made, 600 migrant workers a year could die on building sites due to harsh working conditions and lack of safety protocols.
Recently, 30 migrant workers fled to the Nepalese Embassy in Doha, Qatar to escape these conditions. They reported having their passports withheld in order to prevent them from fleeing, being denied water and a salary, and being forced to work in intolerable heat. Some equated such hardships with modern-day slavery. In addition, workers have been found living in unsanitary and crowded conditions, resulting in illness.
Employees that complain are often fired, with no means of returning home or finding more work. With passports and salary withheld, most migrant workers have no choice but to continue to work in such conditions.
Nepalese migrant workers aren’t the only workers turning to their embassy for help. Thousands more have complained to the Indian embassy in Qatar. According to the Indian ambassador, more than 700 Indian workers have already lost their lives in these deleterious working conditions.
The ITUC stresses the need for significant changes in workplace sanitation and safety. Otherwise, the organization estimates that at least 4,000 migrant workers will lose their lives by the 2022 World Cup.
These working conditions come as a surprise to many, as Qatar is the world’s richest nation in regards to income per capita. The country is expected to spend over $100 billion on infrastructure, hotels, and other facilities for the World Cup alone.
The ITUC has also commented on the need for FIFA to send a strong message to the Qatari government on how this system of modern-day slavery is unacceptable.
– Rahul Shah