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Workers in Qatar still facing abuses despite promises: HRW

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  • Post last modified:24/08/2020
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DOHA: Qatar’s massive migrant workforce is still being exploited by employers who withhold wages, threaten expulsion, and deduct pay, leaving some staff unable to eat, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

Widespread abuses persist even after Qatar — where more than 90 percent of the 2.75 population are migrant workers — pledged to clean up its act following a torrent of criticism of its labour laws when it won the contest to host the 2022 World Cup a decade ago.

“Independent employers, as well as those operating labour supply companies, frequently delay, withhold, or arbitrarily deduct workers’ wages,” the New York-based rights group said in a report.

HRW said it interviewed more than 93 migrant workers working for more than 60 companies or employers and reviewed legal documents as part of its investigation.

“Employers often withhold contractually guaranteed overtime payments and end-of service benefits, and they regularly violate their contracts with migrant workers with impunity,” it said.

Qatari authorities have taken numerous steps to protect workers — including the creation of an electronic Wage Protection System meant to detect unpaid salaries.

However, the effectiveness of the WPS has been mixed with numerous high profile cases of major contractors failing to pay.

While wealthy Qatar is one of the few countries forecast to run a budget surplus in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has hit many sectors of the economy and left many employers unable to pay wages.

On March 16, Qatar announced a 75 billion riyal ($20.6 billion) business stimulus packages that included three billion riyals to cover worker wages.

“Since the pandemic first appeared in Qatar, these abuses have appeared more frequently,” HRW said.

“In the worst cases, workers told Human Rights Watch that employers simply stopped paying their wages, and they often struggled to feed themselves.”

Nimra Jamali

Nimra Jamali, presently studying in London, writes on international politics for