Working conditions for African workers at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have long been the focus of international criticism. Excessively long working hours, low wages and very poor health care for migrant workers were violations of international labour law.
German TV reports 15.000 deaths
According to the German Television Channel ZDF, more than 15,000 migrant workers, involved in the construction of the World Cup Arenas, have died. That would mean that every single World Cup match in Qatar this November and December costs 234 lives. Most of the workers come from African countries. Many others are from South Asian countries like the Philippines or Indonesia.
The Qatari government has so far failed to fully investigate the deaths. It has also failed to compensate the families. Many of them have lost their main breadwinners, leaving them in dire poverty in their home countries. The names of all the people who have died since 2010 have not been published yet.
ITUC-Africa reports improved working conditions
However, according to the African regional organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), the Gulf country has significantly improved the working conditions and rights of all workers. Qatar has only recently amended its labour laws. For example, it is now possible to change jobs without the consent of the current employer.
“Kafala” has been the main problem
The country still struggles with the system of worker sponsorship known as kafala. It ties workers to the job they were first hired for for a certain period of time before they are allowed to change jobs. In other words: a kind of modern slavery.
According to the union’s general secretary, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, the reforms have also “led to improved health and safety requirements at construction sites and wherever temperatures exceed a certain level”.
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