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 very best 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’ll 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 working observe winds its manner across the stadium and passes numerous 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 time out in relentless warmth and humidity to take care of this glorious inexperienced area – watering the bottom, chopping the garden and weeding by hand – dwell in utterly completely different circumstances.

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 – 6 in cots, however everybody the Guardian noticed was windowless, cramped, and filthy. Towels which might be rolled between the higher and decrease beds supply slightly privateness. Water bottles, cooking utensils and private belongings crammed underneath 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 dwelling and dealing circumstances for low-paid employees, in Qatar and throughout the area, however the Guardian’s findings reveal severe shortcomings in restore course of.

Staff engaged on World Cup-related tasks are alleged to get pleasure from superior remedy in keeping 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. Nevertheless, SAIC employees interviewed by the Guardian, who usually are not underneath contract to the World Cup committee, say they’ve obtained nothing.

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

Many 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 wrestle to pay recruitment charges and related money owed, and ship cash to their households on that wage.

“The wage is simply too low, it is too laborious. 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 youngsters 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 remove abuse. warranty The system – underneath which employees have been unable to vary jobs – however employees say SAIC refuses to launch them.

“The corporate is not going to give [permission to leave]. You may solely change for those who 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 face challenges from their employers.” She inspired SAIC workers to make use of the grievance hotline to boost their considerations.

Through 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 suppose we will even enter the stadium.”

The one factor that actually issues to him is his wage. His household relies 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, however it pays little for the work we do,” Kabir says. “You may neglect 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 dwelling circumstances.”

He cited a spread of steps which were taken to boost working and dwelling requirements for employees, together with bettering 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 rules.”

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

FIFA mentioned it was in touch with the Supreme Committee concerning the allegations raised by SAIC workers. She added: “Along with the in depth measures already launched, aimed 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 tasks 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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