News 25th November 2016

BWI & Qatar sign deal to inspect Qatar 2022 worker conditions

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which is responsible for delivering the infrastructure for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) that will launch joint labour and accommodation inspections on World Cup projects from January 2017. ‘The joint inspections will initially focus on projects that are being built by multinational companies that are headquartered in countries where BWI currently has representation’, read a 15 November statement. ‘To date the companies that fall under the agreement are from Austria, Belgium, Italy, India, and Cyprus – companies all employed on SC projects’.

A BWI spokesperson clarified that this means it will be able to conduct inspections on all workers in any project that involves a company in which BWI has representation – not just workers directly hired by companies in countries where BWI has representation. A joint working group (JWG) has also been formed to manage the inspections and reporting obligations under the MoU. “The specifics of inspection are currently up for discussion”, said the spokesperson.

“This is an important step to build on the mechanisms currently in place which ensure workers’ safety on projects directly related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup”, said Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI. “As a global union, BWI will now work with the SC to review and assess the SC’s health and safety training system. We will get access to worksites and conduct labour inspections which are important preventive mechanisms against work-place accidents.”

The number of workers engaged on Qatar 2022 projects is due to reach its peak of 36,000 workers during the next year. A total of eight stadiums are planned for the tournament, and there can be 10,000 workers on site at any time. Conditions endured by migrant workers building the stadiums for the tournament have been heavily criticised by FIFPro and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In April, FIFA created an oversight body intended to ensure better living and working conditions for migrants working on Qatar 2022 projects.

“The BWI Sports Campaign Group has been engaging with FIFA and other global sports bodies since 2006”, said Dietmar Schäfers, Chair of the BWI Sports Campaign Group in the statement. “What we signed today makes it clear that the health and safety of construction workers is a top priority for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy as they prepare to host the world’s biggest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup. This is a positive step and we hope many others will follow their lead for future mega-events.”

Qatar’s Supreme Committee has also recentlyincorporated Edition 2 of its Workers Welfare (WW) Standards and has appointed human rights and labour standards organisation Impactt Ltd. to assess worker welfare. The standards focus on ethical recruitment, worker nutrition, accommodation as well as on-site health and safety, and were developed in consultation with non-governmental organisations.

BWI has signed a similar agreement with the local organising committee for the Russia 2018 World Cup in August, however there have been allegations of corruption and unsafe conditions for workers regarding the construction of the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg. The BWI began discussions with Qatar’s Supreme Committee in March 2014.

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