Qatar World Cup stadium workers toil in debt and misery | labor rights

When England arrive at Al Bayt Stadium for his or her match in opposition to the USA in simply two months’ time, they are going to be met by a shocking 60,000-seat stadium constructed within the form of a Bedouin tent.

The stadium, arguably the most effective in Qatar, will host matches from the opening match as much as the semi-finals. If England win their group and get this far, they may play 4 house matches.

As spectacular is the pristine park surrounding the stadium. The manicured lawns are dotted with fountains, streams and a lake. Geese play in chilly water. A operating monitor winds its means across the stadium and passes quite a lot of immaculate coaching pitches with grass like inexperienced fields.

Tent-like stadium at dusk and visible through a decorative pond
The 60,000-seat Qatari Al Bayt Stadium is meant to resemble a Bedouin tent. Images: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

Till now The lads who work day in and day trip in relentless warmth and humidity to keep up this excellent inexperienced house – watering the bottom, slicing the garden and weeding by hand – stay in fully totally different situations.

On the finish of every shift, they’re transported for 40 minutes to the sting of the desert, the place they’re dropped off on their employer’s farm, the Al Sulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Advanced (SAIC). Inside, among the many rows of big greenhouses, they return to their rooms in dilapidated little cabins.

Some home three or 4 employees in single beds, others 5 or 6 in cots, however everybody the Guardian noticed was windowless, cramped, and filthy. Towels which can be rolled between the higher and decrease beds provide slightly privateness. Water bottles, cooking utensils and private belongings crammed below the beds. Garments held on ropes hung throughout the partitions. The camp is as filthy as any journalist he has seen in his 9 years of reporting from Qatar.

FIFA and the World Cup’s native organizing physique, the Supreme Committee for Supply and Legacy, have repeatedly emphasised that the event was the catalyst for altering residing and dealing situations for low-paid employees, in Qatar and throughout the area, however the Guardian’s findings reveal critical shortcomings in restore course of.

Employees engaged on World Cup-related initiatives are purported to get pleasure from superior remedy in step with strict “Employee Welfare Requirements”, however in interviews this summer season with employees employed by SAIC at three World Cup stadiums – Al al-Bayt, Al Janoub and Ahmed Bin Ali – the Guardian heard the allegations A number of violations of those requirements.

All the employees interviewed, who’re from Bangladesh, Nepal and India, mentioned they have been compelled to pay unlawful charges to brokers of their nations to safe their jobs.

“I paid 300,000 [Bangladeshi taka]That is roughly £2,700, says one employee, an enormous sum in Bangladesh. “Some pay slightly extra, others rather less, however everybody pays.”

The World Cup Native Organizing Committee offered a plan in 2017 to encourage its contractors to pay recruitment charges for his or her employees. The fee mentioned SAIC was concerned within the scheme and had paid £29,000 to employees employed on contracts it awarded to SAIC. Nonetheless, SAIC employees interviewed by the Guardian, who will not be below contract to the World Cup committee, say they’ve acquired nothing.

Two rows of shabby cabins with a few windows
Cabins within the camp home employees who work on lots of the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. Images: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

A lot of the employees interviewed are paid a base wage of 1,000 riyals (£225) a month, the equal of about £1 an hour. Meals and lodging are offered by SAIC. Wage is the authorized minimal in Qatar, however employees say they battle to pay recruitment charges and related money owed, and ship cash to their households on that wage.

“The wage is just too low, it is too onerous. I can earn this in India,” says one employee who, after deducting his prices in Qatar, can ship about £160 to his spouse and 4 kids each month.

Within the face of persistent criticism of the remedy of low-wage migrant employees, Qatar introduced a brand new legislation in 2020 that promised to get rid of abuse. warranty The system – below which employees have been unable to vary jobs – however employees say SAIC refuses to launch them.

“The corporate won’t give [permission to leave]. You’ll be able to solely change if you happen to return to your nation, cancel your visa and apply once more,” says one of many employees.

One other laughed on the suggestion, “If we may change jobs, everybody would depart!”

A room full of personal belongings.  String hanging fabrics provide the only privacy for bunk beds
One of many camp rooms housing employees working within the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. Images: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

The World Cup Organizing Committee mentioned: “We acknowledge that SAIC employees should still face challenges from their employers.” She inspired SAIC workers to make use of the grievance hotline to lift their issues.

In the course of the sizzling summer season months, employees rise up earlier than daybreak and head to Al Bayt – which value £620m to construct. At seven, the warmth is insufferable, however a big *works to irrigate the garden and bushes.

He did not know he was going to be working at a World Cup location when he got here to Qatar, however that does not appear to curiosity him. “I’m not excited concerning the World Cup,” he mentioned with a tone. “I do not assume we will even enter the stadium.”

The one factor that actually issues to him is his wage. His household will depend on his meager earnings, however most of his wages go to purchase jewellery he gave to the moneylender as safety so he may afford his £1,170 job price.

“Qatar is a wealthy nation, but it surely pays little for the work we do,” Kabir says. “You’ll be able to overlook concerning the good pay right here.”

The Supreme Committee mentioned it “remained true to its dedication to make the most of the World Cup to result in lasting social modifications for our employees, to enhance their working and residing situations.”

He cited a variety of steps which have been taken to lift working and residing requirements for employees, together with enhancing lodging, measures to scale back employees’ publicity to warmth, laws to introduce a minimal wage and permitting employees to vary jobs, and a monitoring system. To make sure corporations adjust to the legislation.

She added that “circumstances of particular person violations don’t present a whole and correct image of the modifications which have occurred in Qatar, as 1000’s of corporations have modified their work practices to adjust to new legal guidelines and laws.”

The Soccer Affiliation mentioned: “Any questions concerning the stadiums for use throughout Qatar 2022 must be directed to the event organizers FIFA.” She referred to a earlier assertion that mentioned: “We imagine there’s proof of tangible progress being made by Qatar with regard to employees’ rights. Nonetheless, we acknowledge that there’s nonetheless extra to be finished.”

FIFA mentioned it was involved with the Supreme Committee concerning the allegations raised by SAIC staff. She added: “Along with the in depth measures already launched, geared toward supporting employees concerned within the preparation and supply of the World Cup, FIFA has actively pushed for the implementation of broader labor reforms relevant to all companies and initiatives throughout the nation. It advantages all employees in Qatar.” .

SAIC didn’t reply to requests for remark.

* The title has been modified to guard his id

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