International trade unions have rejected proposals by the
Qatari government to scrap the country’s sponsorship system and establish
Earlier this week, regional media reported that authorities in
the gas-rich Gulf state were prepared to abolish the kafala system, whereby the
visa and legal status of migrant workers is the full responsibility of
Critics say the system leads to exploitation of workers, as
they must obtain permission from employers every time they leave the country.
It was also suggested that the government would look to set
up trade unions, although foreign workers would not be permitted to become
Although no official announcement has yet been made, The International
Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called for Qatari lawmakers to instead
allow foreign workers to set up their own labour unions outside of government
“Workers must have the legal right to organise themselves in
free, independent trade unions without punishment or interference from
authorities,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, in a
“We are ready to sit down with the Qatari authorities to
ensure the legal conditions are in place for workers to collectively bargain
and freely form and join trade unions of their choice.”
The statement added that international trade unions were
currently negotiating with the football governing body FIFA over labour
standards at the World Cup 2022 event, which is set to be held in Qatar.
A study conducted late last year revealed the extent of
workers’ rights abuses in the gas-rich Gulf nation.
The report by Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee found
that a third of construction workers never receive their wages on time, with 30
percent earning just QAR800 (US$ 219) per month.