Unite joins call for migrant worker protections in Qatar

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On International Migrants Day, construction workers and footballers have come together to demand that the human rights of migrant workers in Qatar are respected and promoted.

The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), of which Unite is a member, and the World Players’ Union (FIFPRO), celebrate International Migrants Day on the same day that marks the one-year countdown to the FIFA 2022 World Cup Final. 

In an open letter, BWI general secretary Ambet E. Yuson and FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffman wrote: 

“The bulk of the infrastructure for the World Cup has been built and there has been significant progress in the protection of human rights of migrant workers in Qatar. However, there is much more work to be done to fulfil the promise of the far-reaching reforms of labour laws. 

“On human rights of migrants, it is, therefore, in the words of the UN proclamation, urgent to move swiftly on ‘the design of actions to ensure their protection’.”

They called for a number of reforms for migrant workers in Qatar, including: 

  • Progress, such as the abolition of the kafala system, to be fully implemented so that the World Cup leaves behind a tangible and sustainable human rights legacy.
  • Guarantees that employers, without exception, respect the provisions of the laws.
  • The establishment of a Migrant Workers’ Centre for workers to fully benefit from the reforms through assistance and education.
  • Further new and ground-breaking steps to protect human rights, including the fundamental rights of workers.

Yuson and Baer-Hoffman said: “Human rights are indivisible. In a global event like the World Cup, other international human rights should be honoured and showcased. The improvement in the protection of human rights, including for women and the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as care for deceased workers and their families should be part of the tournament’s legacy. 

“In one year’s time, the World Cup trophy can only be proudly lifted if the human rights of all individuals involved are fully respected and protected. This means guaranteeing a tangible and lasting legacy from the tournament.”

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