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Mon 16 Mar 2015 12:25 PM

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FIFA President says Qatar needs to do more to help workers

Sepp Blatter meets Emir of Qatar to discuss hosting of FIFA World Cup 2022 and workers’ rights

FIFA President says Qatar needs to do more to help workers

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said Qatar needs to do more to improve the working conditions for migrant workers in the country.

The head of FIFA met with Sheikh Tamim to discuss the latest update on Qatar’s preparations ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

As well as the development of football in the region, the pair also discussed the ongoing labour-rights reform efforts which aim to ensure the welfare of migrant workers.

Qatar has vowed to implement changes to protect migrant workers from human rights abuses, and said it intended to change the kefala system from early 2015. The current law limits the rights of movement for foreign workers and prevents them from changing jobs.

Following the meeting, Blatter said that more must be done to ensure all workers are treated fairly.

“It is encouraging to hear the Emir’s personal commitment to workers’ welfare and to get a sense of the improvements planned for all workers in Qatar,” said Blatter.

“As various human-rights groups have recently noted, progress has been made already, especially with regard to the standards introduced by the Supreme Committee relating to 2022 construction sites, but more must be done in Qatar to ensure uniformly fair working conditions for all. This will only be possible through the collective effort of all stakeholders – from the construction companies to the authorities. It is clear that Qatar takes its responsibility as host seriously and sees the FIFA World Cup as a catalyst for positive social change,” he added.

In May last year, Qatar said it would replace the sponsorship system with one based on employment contracts. Under the new legislation, the exit permit that foreign workers need to leave the country is to be replaced by a system under which permission is granted automatically after a three-day grace period.

Foreign workers would also be able to change jobs at the end of their contracts, without the need for the certificate they currently require from their previous employers showing they have no objections.

Those on open-ended contracts would be entitled to change jobs after five years and employers who confiscate the passports of their workers would face tougher penalties.