T.In Qatar, thousands of low-paid migrant workers have been forced to return home before the World Cup, leaving many unemployed, unable to support their families and in debt. I’m afraid not.
In some cases, workers say they were sent back before their contract ended or without receiving their full salary or benefits.
The move to send migrant workers back to their home countries before the FIFA tournament starts appears to be related to a government circular issued last year and confirmed by The Guardian. A plan for workers’ leave to “maximize the reduction in the number of workers in the country” for the World Cup.
On the promenade surrounding Doha’s bay, a red clock in the shape of Qatar’s World Cup logo counts down the days until the tournament begins.
When the Guardian visited in the summer, Hundreds of migrant workers in blue overalls worked in stifling humidity It plans to complete renovations to the popular promenade and roads along it, known as the Corniche, which is expected to become a destination for thousands of tourists and football fans once the tournament begins.
The Guardian interviewed 25 workers employed on the Corniche. Most say he was due to stay in Qatar for two years but returned much earlier, in some cases as little as 10 months. Many of those interviewed have now returned to their countries.
Some Workers Talked to Guardians They said they hadn’t worked long enough to pay back the huge amount they borrowed to pay the recruitment agency in their home country to secure a job in Qatar, equivalent to four to five months’ base salary in Qatar. said.
“We don’t want to go back. We are poor and need to work,” said the Nepalese worker. I was forced to pay an illegal recruitment fee worth almost £1,000 to secure a job. “I haven’t paid my membership fee back yet. If I get kicked out, I’ll lose money.”
Others were in a state of confusion as they said they would be sent home but were told they might be recalled after the World Cup. We are facing up to 6 months.
All interviewed workers said they had no choice but to resign. “Many have already been dispatched and some are on the list. If your name is on the list, you have to go,” said one.
Many blamed the World Cup for the abrupt end of their work. “What can I do? I am helpless.
Ansar Ali* said he paid an Indian agent 100,000 rupees (£1,050) to secure the job. To pay his bills, he borrowed money at his high interest rate of 10%, but he had less than two years to pay off the debt and provide for his wife and his two sons. I calculated that I could earn enough.
But just 10 months after arriving in Qatar, he expected to return anytime. “I don’t know when it will be sent, but I know I have to go. A couple of my friends have already been notified,” he said.
“How am I going to live when I come back? How am I going to pay my debts?” As he walked to the currency exchange office, he asked for the Qatari riyals to be exchanged for Indian rupees.
The workers interviewed by The Guardian are employed by UrbaCon Trading & Contracting Company (UCC) and InfraRoad (both subsidiaries of UCC Holding) on projects to upgrade the Corniche.
Most of the affected workers appeared to have been hired on short-term “project visas” but were told they would be employed for at least two years. His letter from InfraRoad offering jobs to workers in August 2021 (after the government circular was issued) seems to back this up.
This letter promises annual leave and a return ticket after two years, and requires a notice period of two months after two years or more of service.
Some workers accused recruitment agencies in their home countries of falsely promising two-year contracts. Others said the liability lay with the contractor. “It’s the company’s responsibility to sign the contract with the agent,” he says.
A recent study by migrant-rights.org, an organization advocating for the rights of migrant workers in the Gulf, found similar cases among workers. It was sent back to Nepal by many of Qatar’s largest construction companies.
Some workers told migrant-rights.org that they did not receive full salaries, overtime pay, or severance pay. Others said they were sent home before their contracts ended.
As one person who worked in many of the World Cup stadiums in Qatar for 12 years said: But who cares about us? The workers of that country are worth nothing. I think the World Cup is only for the rich.”
Amnesty International Gulf Research Fellow Mae Romanos said: Abuse and violation as a result. ”
In a statement, Qatari officials said there was no government requirement for companies to repatriate employees or cut their workforce before the World Cup.
“Independent measures by companies to reduce staff must be taken in accordance with the law and must not adversely affect employee welfare.”
The statement also said that the Employment Act allows employers and employees to terminate their contracts before the end of the legal notice period, as long as they comply with the legal notice period. It has the right to change jobs if terminated, and legal proceedings are in place if an employee fails to receive wages or benefits when the contract terminates, it said.
The Qatari government also said a fund to help workers, including refunds of unpaid wages and benefits, had paid out £152.5 million by the end of the month.
“Qatar is committed to a fair and effective labor system and appreciates the integral role of foreign workers in the economy and wider society,” the official added.
UCC Holding did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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