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 one of the 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 are going to play 4 dwelling 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 means across the stadium and passes various 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. Pictures: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

Till now The boys who work day in and time out in relentless warmth and humidity to keep up this glorious inexperienced area – watering the bottom, chopping the garden and weeding by hand – dwell in utterly completely 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 Complicated (SAIC). Inside, among the many rows of big greenhouses, they return to their rooms in dilapidated little cabins.

Some home three or 4 staff in single beds, others 5 – 6 in cots, however everybody the Guardian noticed was windowless, cramped, and filthy. Towels which are rolled between the higher and decrease beds provide 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 pressured that the match was the catalyst for altering dwelling and dealing situations for low-paid staff, in Qatar and throughout the area, however the Guardian’s findings reveal severe shortcomings within the reform course of. .

Employees engaged on World Cup-related initiatives are imagined to take pleasure in superior therapy in step with strict “Employee Welfare Requirements”, however in interviews this summer season with staff 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 had 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 introduced a plan in 2017 to encourage its contractors to pay recruitment charges for his or her staff. The fee mentioned SAIC was concerned within the scheme and had paid £29,000 to staff employed on contracts it awarded to SAIC. Nonetheless, SAIC staff interviewed by the Guardian, who usually are not underneath contract to the World Cup committee, mentioned they obtained nothing.

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

A lot of the staff interviewed are paid a base wage of 1,000 riyals (£225) a month, the equal of about £1 an hour. Meals and lodging is offered by SAIC. Wage is the authorized minimal in Qatar, however staff say they wrestle 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 arduous. 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 therapy of low-wage migrant staff, Qatar introduced a brand new legislation in 2020 that promised to eradicate abuse. warranty The system – underneath which staff had been unable to alter jobs – however staff say SAIC refuses to launch them.

“The corporate is not going to give [permission to leave]. You possibly can solely change in case you return to your nation, cancel your visa and apply once more,” says one of many staff.

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 staff working within the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. Pictures: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

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

Throughout the scorching summer season months, staff stand up earlier than daybreak and head to Al Bayt – which price £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 is determined by his meager revenue, however most of his wages go to purchase jewellery he gave to the moneylender as safety so he may afford his £1,170 job charge.

“Qatar is a wealthy nation, but it surely pays little for the work we do,” Kabir says. “You possibly can neglect concerning the good pay right here.”

The Supreme Committee mentioned it “remained true to its dedication to reap the benefits of the World Cup to result in lasting social adjustments for our staff, to enhance their working and dwelling situations.”

He cited a variety of steps which were taken to boost working and dwelling requirements for staff, together with bettering lodging, measures to scale back staff’ publicity to warmth, laws to introduce a minimal wage and permitting staff to alter jobs, and a monitoring system. To make sure firms adjust to the legislation.

She added that “instances of particular person violations don’t present a whole and correct image of the adjustments which have occurred in Qatar, as 1000’s of firms 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 needs to be directed to the match 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 staff’ rights. Nonetheless, 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 staff 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 staff in Qatar.” .

SAIC didn’t reply to requests for remark.

* The title has been modified to guard his id

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