Qatar World Cup stadium workers toil in debt and misery | labor rights

When England arrive at Al Bayt Stadium for his or her match towards the USA in simply two months’ time, they are going to be met by a surprising 60,000-seat stadium constructed within the form of a Bedouin tent.

The stadium, arguably the perfect in Qatar, will host matches from the opening match as much as the semi-finals. If England win their group and get this far, they are going to play 4 dwelling matches.

As spectacular is the pristine park surrounding the stadium. The manicured lawns are dotted with fountains, streams and a lake. Geese play in chilly water. A working monitor winds its means across the stadium and passes quite a few immaculate coaching pitches with grass like inexperienced fields.

Tent-like stadium at dusk and visible through a decorative pond
The 60,000-seat Qatari Al Bayt Stadium is meant to resemble a Bedouin tent. Pictures: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

Till now The lads who work day in and time out in relentless warmth and humidity to keep up this excellent inexperienced area – watering the bottom, chopping the garden and weeding by hand – reside in fully completely different circumstances.

On the finish of every shift, they’re transported for 40 minutes to the sting of the desert, the place they’re dropped off on their employer’s farm, the Al Sulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Complicated (SAIC). Inside, among the many rows of large greenhouses, they return to their rooms in dilapidated little cabins.

Some home three or 4 employees in single beds, others 5 – 6 in cots, however everybody the Guardian noticed was windowless, cramped, and filthy. Towels which are rolled between the higher and decrease beds supply a little bit privateness. Water bottles, cooking utensils and private belongings crammed underneath the beds. Garments held on ropes hung throughout the partitions. The camp is as filthy as any journalist he has seen in his 9 years of reporting from Qatar.

FIFA and the World Cup Native Organizing Committee have repeatedly claimed that the match was the catalyst for altering residing and dealing circumstances for low-paid employees, in Qatar and throughout the area, however the Guardian’s findings reveal critical shortcomings within the reform course of.

FIFA didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

Employees engaged on World Cup-related initiatives are alleged to get pleasure from superior therapy in step with strict “Employee Welfare Requirements”, however in interviews this summer season with employees employed by SAIC at three World Cup stadiums – Al al-Bayt, Al Janoub and Ahmed Bin Ali – the Guardian heard the allegations A number of violations of those requirements.

All the employees interviewed, who’re from Bangladesh, Nepal and India, mentioned they have been pressured to pay unlawful charges to brokers of their international locations to safe their jobs.

“I paid 300,000 [Bangladeshi taka]That is roughly £2,700, says one employee, an enormous sum in Bangladesh. “Some pay a little bit extra, others rather less, however everybody pays.”

The World Cup Native Organizing Committee launched a plan in 2017 to encourage its contractors to pay hiring charges for his or her employees, however SAIC employees who spoke to the Guardian say they’ve obtained nothing.

Two rows of shabby cabins with a few windows
Cabins within the camp home employees who work on lots of the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. Pictures: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

Many of the employees interviewed are paid a base wage of 1,000 riyals (£225) a month, the equal of about £1 an hour. Meals and lodging are supplied by SAIC. Wage is the authorized minimal in Qatar, however employees say they wrestle to pay recruitment charges and related money owed, and ship cash to their households on that wage.

“The wage is simply too low, it is too arduous. I can earn this in India,” says one employee who, after deducting his prices in Qatar, can ship about £160 to his spouse and 4 kids each month.

Within the face of persistent criticism of the therapy of low-wage migrant employees, Qatar introduced a brand new regulation in 2020 that promised to remove abuse. warranty The system – underneath which employees have been unable to alter jobs – however employees say SAIC refuses to launch them.

“The corporate won’t give [permission to leave]. You may solely change in the event you return to your nation, cancel your visa and apply once more,” says one of many employees.

One other laughed on the suggestion, “If we might change jobs, everybody would go away!”

A room full of personal belongings.  String hanging fabrics provide the only privacy for bunk beds
One of many camp rooms housing employees working within the World Cup stadiums in Qatar. Pictures: Pete Pattison/The Guardian

The World Cup Organizing Committee mentioned: “We acknowledge that SAIC employees should still face challenges from their employers.” She inspired SAIC employees to make use of the grievance hotline to boost their considerations.

Through the sizzling summer season months, employees stand up earlier than daybreak and head to Al Bayt – which price £620m to construct. At seven, the warmth is insufferable, however a big *works to irrigate the garden and bushes.

He did not know he was going to be working at a World Cup location when he got here to Qatar, however that does not appear to curiosity him. “I’m not excited in regards to the World Cup,” he mentioned with a tone. “I do not suppose we will even enter the stadium.”

The one factor that basically issues to him is his wage. His household relies on his meager earnings, however most of his wages go to purchase jewellery he gave to the moneylender as safety so he might afford his £1,170 job payment.

“Qatar is a wealthy nation, however it pays little for the work we do,” Kabir says. “You may neglect in regards to the good pay right here.”

The World Cup Native Organizing Committee mentioned it had “remained its dedication to capitalizing on the World Cup to deliver lasting social modifications to our employees, to enhance their working and residing circumstances”.

He cited a spread of steps which have been taken to boost working and residing requirements for employees, together with bettering lodging, measures to scale back employees’ publicity to warmth, laws to introduce a minimal wage and permitting employees to alter jobs, and a monitoring system. To make sure corporations adjust to the regulation.

She added that “circumstances of particular person violations don’t present an entire and correct image of the modifications which have occurred in Qatar, as hundreds of corporations have modified their work practices to adjust to new legal guidelines and laws.”

The Soccer Affiliation mentioned: “Any questions concerning the stadiums for use throughout Qatar 2022 ought to be directed to the match organizers FIFA.” She referred to a earlier assertion that mentioned: “We imagine there may be proof of tangible progress being made by Qatar with regard to employees’ rights. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that there’s nonetheless extra to be carried out.”

SAIC didn’t reply to requests for remark.

* The identify has been modified to guard his id

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