Qatar has dismissed a claim by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) that 7,000 construction workers will die building venues associated with the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The ITUC claimed to have used the Qatari Government’s own figures to argue that, judging by current rates of 1,000 per year, a total of 7,000 workers will have been killed on construction sites by 2022.
More than 900 workers from India, Nepal and Bangladesh died in Qatar in 2012 and 2013, with the ITUC claiming the “real fatality rate” was more than 1,000 per year.
But the Gulf nation has hit back, describing the calculations as “groundless”.
They insist no workers involved in World Cup projects have died and that there is no reason to believe many will do so in the future.
“The International Trade Union Confederation’s claim…represents a deliberate distortion of the facts,” the Government said in a statement.
“To date, after more than 14 million hours worked there have been no fatalities on World Cup project sites – not one.”
They also claim it is unfair to attribute the deaths of all workers featured in the calculations to workplace-related accidents.
“If ITUC were to apply the same logic to an evaluation of worker fatalities in the run-up to the London Olympic Games, every death of a non-British worker between 2006 and 2012 would have been attributed to the London Olympics,” they added.
Alleged abuses of worker rights have been a major concern for World Cup organisers in recent years, with the Qatari Government even commissioning a report from international law firm DLA Piper to look into the problem.
Eighteen months after that report was published, however, many of its recommendations have yet to be enacted, critics have claimed, while “nothing has been done to assess the number of deaths and injuries or the reasons for them”.
An estimated 1.5 million migrants work in Qatar, predominantly from Nepal and India.
Numbers are expected to reach two million within the next two years, with the construction of World Cup venues a key reason for this.
Amnesty International claims Qatar has “seriously failed” to address five key issues, including paying wages on time, something which “leaves migrant workers and their families back home in desperate situations”.
A commitment to expanding the labour inspector force to 400 by the end of 2015 has also not been met, having been postponed until the end of 2016.
Under the kafala sponsorship system, workers are also still required to seek their employer’s consent to change jobs or leave the country.
Football’s world governing body FIFA and other groups have also been urged to improve their action to regulate behaviour in Qatar.
- By Nick Butler; this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz