Qatar issues worker welfare charter for World Cup

Qatar issued new guidelines Tuesday aimed at protecting thousands of expatriate workers employed on construction projects for the finals of the 2022 World Cup.

The gas-rich Gulf state has faced mounting criticism from human rights groups over the safety and working conditions of migrants working in its booming construction industry.

Its Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, responsible for organising the tournament, issued standards it said would ensure workers are properly and promptly paid, that their housing is adequate and working conditions up to global standards.

Contractors will be required to set up bank accounts for their workers, creating a system under which the committee can verify that workers are paid in full and on time.

There will also be minimum requirements for worker accommodation covering everything from the number of beds per room to a minimum standard for cleanliness and hygiene.

The committee will require contractors and sub-contractors to ensure "world-class" health and safety for workers, equality in their treatment and protect their dignity.

Amnesty International said in November that workers were being treated like "animals," and urged football's world governing body FIFA to press Qatar to improve conditions for foreign labourers, most of whom come from South Asia.

It highlighted a series of abuses including "non-payment of wages harsh and dangerous working conditions and shocking standards of accommodation."

Following an inspection tour a month earlier, international trade unionists described the working conditions for migrants as "not acceptable."

Amnesty researcher James Lynch said the new guidelines represent "a positive -- if partial -- effort to prevent some of the worst abuses from taking place".

"While this may be a good starting point, the charter will only address the concerns of... those involved in the construction of stadiums and training grounds.

"The standards will not apply to thousands of other migrant workers... including those who will build the wider infrastructure to support the hosting of the World Cup, including roads, hotels and railways."

The Supreme Committee said it has engaged the International Labour Organisation to verify that the procedures were being followed.

FIFA said the committee's report will be used to prepare for a hearing Thursday at the European Parliament on the conditions of migrant workers.

After that, another detailed report will be delivered to the FIFA Executive Committee in March.

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