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Issue #1595      May 29, 2013

Qatar must improve its treatment of workers

Delegates attending the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Congress in London will be lobbied by unions as part of the campaign to secure better treatment for migrant workers employed on the construction of stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and for foreign footballers currently playing in the Gulf state.

The Trade Union Confederation (TUC) along with its international equivalent – the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – is calling on UEFA to address the appalling treatment of workers and players in Qatar and back calls for FIFA to re-run the vote for the 2022 tournament should the Qatari government fail to take any action.

Harsh treatment of migrant workers in Qatar and its government’s failure to improve employment rights are the unions’ main concerns. Low rates of pay, excessive working hours, a ban on joining unions, poor safety standards and numerous abuses under the country’s strict visa sponsorship system have led to accusations that Qatar is acting like a 21st century slave state.

Campaigners from the ITUC and TUC will be handing over a petition detailing abuses of players’ and workers’ rights in Qatar, which has been signed by thousands of football fans from around the globe. The union organisations have also written to UEFA President Michel Platini, urging him to use the London Congress to:

Elect members to the FIFA Executive Committee who will be committed to reform and to upholding human and union rights.

Brief UEFA delegates attending the coming FIFA Congress in Mauritius about the difficult working conditions in Qatar – both for footballers currently signed to clubs and for construction workers tasked with building the World Cup infrastructure.

A petition from the ITUC and TUC calls on FIFA to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup unless Qatar reforms its ways.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The number of workers killed in the construction industry in Qatar each year is up to eight times higher than in the UK and other developed countries. With the UEFA Congress here in London, we cannot let delegates ignore workers’ deaths and injuries.

“Football fans everywhere will be shocked to learn of the way in which workers are treated – conditions akin to a modern form of slavery – and will want UEFA’s support to put pressure on Qatar to reform or risk having FIFA re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup.”

Football fans and trade union members are being encouraged to join the campaign at www.rerunthevote.org in one of the largest global campaigns embarked upon by international unions in recent years.   

Next article – Dollar crisis and the coming collapse of US global hegemony

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