Qatar 2022: Will new charter protect migrant workers at World Cup?

Story highlights

Qatar's World Cup 2022 organizers adopt a 'workers' charter'

Charter is response to criticism of treatment of migrant workers on building projects

FIFA set Qatar a deadline of February 12 to update on improvements

Critics say Qatar's 'kafala' system needs to be reformed

CNN  — 

Organizers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have responded to criticism over the plight of migrant workers on stadia and infrastructure projects by saying Tuesday that “tangible progress” had been made in addressing widespread concerns over their welfare.

They published an updated 50-page “workers’ charter” – developed in consultation with the International Labor Organization – detailing measures to improve wages, accommodation as well as promising regular inspections.

FIFA had set the Qatari authorities a deadline of February 12 to give an update on measures to improve conditions for workers.

Theo Zwanziger, a senior member of the world governing body’s executive committee, is to report its findings to the European parliament Thursday.

Zahir Belounis, a French Algerian striker who was trapped in Qatar after a dispute with his club, is also to due to appear to give his perspective.

FIFA acted after its president Sepp Blatter condemned working conditions in the Gulf state as “unacceptable” as he responded to damning reports last year from Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Read: Blatter: Qatar conditions “unacceptable”

They detailed systematic abuse and the ITUC claimed that fatal construction injuries were eight times higher in Qatar than other developed nations, with migrant workers from India and Nepal the worst affected.

‘We have always believed that Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup would be a catalyst to accelerate positive initiatives, already being undertaken by Qatar, which will leave a legacy of enhanced, sustainable and meaningful progress in regards to worker welfare across the country,” said Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

“We already see this progress taking place across Qatar on a daily basis, and will continue to work hard to make our vision become the ever-present reality on the ground.’

Nicholas McGeehan, the Gulf researcher of Human Rights Watch, one of the most trenchant critics of the Qatari government, told CNN that its authorities “deserve credit for its efforts to improve standards on the projects within its control” – but he urged caution.

“They not guaranteeing workers’ rights to change employer, or their right to leave the country or their right to bargain collectively for decent pay and conditions if things go wrong.

Read: Amnesty report details widespread abuse