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Make non-payment of workers’ salaries a crime

Graphic: Migrant workers on a building site in Qatar

Employers who default in payment of workers' salaries should be considered as committing a serious and punishable offence, the NHRC argues.

Qatar's human rights watchdog wants employers who default in payment of workers' salaries to be considered as committing a serious offence and punished accordingly, The Peninsula reported.

Dr Ali bin Simaikh Al Merri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), said the Committee has asked the authorities to make amendments in the labour law to make delay in payment of workers' salaries a crime .

He said the NHRC, in its annual reports, had also been demanding a minimum wage be fixed for workers in Qatar.

"Our job is to give proposals to the authorities concerned and only the government can implement them. We are following up (on such issues) and we feel a serious intention on the part of the government to improve the situation of labourers, as well as the work environment," Al Merri told The Peninsula.

He said the initiatives were not taken in response to criticism from the international community. Efforts were being made to improve the situation of workers even before Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

However, the NHRC, as the country's human rights watchdog, expects more from the authorities in this regard, he added.

Al Merri appreciated the initiative of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which had released a set of standards related to salaries and accommodation of workers employed in sports projects associated with the World Cup.

"The new standards indicate that the issue of improving the labour situation is being taken seriously. It is a positive step by the government, but the judgment has to be made based on whether the standards and requirements are implemented on the ground. The role of the NHRC is to monitor and keep a track of what has been implemented," said Al Merri.

Regarding the sponsorship system, he said, "the committee concerned is still studying the sponsorship law to see it in a balanced way from the perspective of the workers as well as the sponsors."

Asked if the NHRC had made any recommendation in this regard, Al Merri said "we have been demanding implementation of international standards."

Date: 13 February 2014

Source: The Peninsula


Image credits

  1. Migrant workers on a building site in Qatar - Richard Messenger, Flickr Creative Commons