By Neha Bhatia
Malaysian contractor Eversendai says it is 'necessary to respond to Amnesty assertions' over labour welfare practices
Malaysian construction giant, Eversendai, has responded to Amnesty International's claims about its worker treatment practices in Qatar.
Eversendai is involved with numerous activities for stadiums being developed as part of Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup plans.
Amnesty's report, covering exploitation of labourers involved with construction sites for FIFA 2022, said that "Eversendai, although having gone through a significant rectification process, have been banned from subsequent World Cup projects until they can demonstrate sustainable improvements".
In response, Eversendai said it "applauds" Amnesty's efforts, adding it is "necessary to respond to Amnesty International’s latest assertions".
Remarking on claims that Eversendai has retained the passports of its workers, the contractor said: "Eversendai has only held workers’ passports if they specifically requested that we do so for safekeeping.
"All workers were offered the choice of either retaining their passport or requesting Eversendai to do so for safekeeping.
"However, we noted that the Supreme Committee’s Semi-Annual Workers’ Welfare Compliance Report for the period October 2014 to March 2015 stated that it will be implementing a new policy requiring all workers to maintain personal possession of their passports," Eversendai said in a statement.
"In anticipation of this new policy, all passports have been returned to the workers, irrespective of their preference."
Eversendai has also debunked an Amnesty "allegation" that one of Al Wakrah's labour camps housed Eversendai workers, adding the claim is "completely unfounded".
"We have not housed any of our workers in the labour camp located in Al Wakrah as described in the report.
"Whilst there have been some shortcomings in our workers’ accommodation in other areas in the past, this matter has been rectified by the middle of 2015 and is now in compliance with the Workers’ Welfare Standards," Eversendai said.
"We have carried out our own inspection and also identified a list of items that could benefit from improvement, mostly in relation to communal recreational, telephone and internet facilities which have now been enhanced."
Finally, Eversendai also responded to claims that it did not follow due diligence practices with its sub-contractors and labour supply companies.
"We can confirm that Eversendai engaged Seven Hills Trading for a limited period between October 2014 and June 2015 and Blue Bay Contracting from October to November 2014," the Malaysian firm's statement said.
"The engagement of Seven Hills Trading came to an end following an inspection of their labour accommodation.
"We have stopped dealing with both companies months before Amnesty International’s report was published.
"Eversendai is engaging direct labour wherever possible in order to reduce the potential risks associated with engaging labour supply companies, [and] seeks to apply the best practices in health, safety and worker welfare standards across our projects.
"We are certain that our practices and procedures are compliant with the laws of Qatar, and where appropriate, with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s Workers’ Welfare Standards.
"We are in engagement with the Supreme Committee and are confident that with our efforts that are in place, we will be able to demonstrate further sustainable improvements which will allow us to bid for future World Cup projects," the statement added.For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.