Workers in Qatar may now change jobs after defective to access their employers’ permission, catastrophe one of the best criticised elements of the country’s labour system.
The government has additionally appear an access in the minimum wage, but rights groups accept said the admeasurement does not go far enough, abrogation low allowance workers earning as little as £1 an hour.
The reforms, which were aboriginal appear in October but anesthetized into law on Sunday, will abundantly accompany an end to the kafala – or advocacy – system, beneath which workers are clumsy to change jobs after their employer’s permission, a convenance that leaves abounding accessible to corruption and in some cases affected labour.
The UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) said the new law, forth with the abolishment in January of the avenue admittance bare to leave the country, “effectively dismantles the ‘kafala’ advocacy arrangement and marks the alpha of a new era for the Qatari labour market”.
Qatar’s analysis of its 2 million-strong casual workforce, and the kafala arrangement in particular, has admiring boundless criticism back the country won the appropriate to host the 2022 World Cup. In 2017 the government entered a affiliation with the ILO to activate to ameliorate its labour system.
Guy Ryder, the administrator accepted of the ILO, said: “By introducing these cogent changes, Qatar has delivered on a commitment, one that will accord workers added abandon and protection, and administration added choice.”
Yousuf Mohamed Al Othman Fakhroo, the abbot of authoritative development, labour and amusing diplomacy said: “These these new laws mark a above anniversary … and will account workers, administration and the nation alike.”
The new minimum allowance of 1,000 riyals (£205) per ages will be alien in six months’ time for absolute contracts, replacing the accepted acting minimum allowance of 750 riyals. It will administer to everyone, including calm workers. If administration do not accommodate adaptation or food, they charge pay an added allowance of 800 riyals.
Rights groups accept accustomed the reforms but said the new laws charge be activated anxiously if workers were to benefit.
Amnesty International said Qatar had taken a cogent footfall to attention casual workers but that the minimum allowance remained too low. “To absolutely accomplish a aberration it will charge to be consistently advised and progressively added to defended aloof and favourable altitude for workers,” said Amnesty’s arch of bread-and-butter and amusing justice, Steve Cockburn.
A artisan in Qatar told the Guardian that the amount of aliment had skyrocketed in contempo years. “It costs 400 riyals a ages aloof for aliment these days, alike if you are administration a kitchen with colleagues or bistro in a canteen. So it’s actual adamantine for workers on a low salary,” said Chudamani Sapkota, a foreman from Nepal.
“If these reforms are implemented in band with the announcements, and casual workers are absolutely able to change employers, it will be significant,” said James Lynch, a administrator at casual rights group, FairSquare. “It would abolish a axial aspect of the kafala system, giving workers added adeptness to actuate their own fate if their administration deceive or corruption them.”
Lynch said the capital analysis for the government would be whether it could accomplish the minimum wage. A acting minimum allowance was alien in 2017, but delayed or contributed accomplishment accept remained commonplace. “Qatar has to abode this affair actively and ensure that workers can await on accepting their pay in abounding every month,” said Lynch.
In a abode appear aftermost week, Human Rights Watch said allowance corruption remained assiduous and widespread, “including delayed wages, castigating and actionable allowance deductions, and, best debilitating yet all too common, months of contributed accomplishment for continued hours of backbreaking work”.
A agent for Migrant-Rights.org, which campaigns on workers’ rights beyond the Middle East, said: “We acceptable the advertisement and recognise the abeyant for absolute appulse on the lives of workers in the country … It is analytical that these reforms are followed by acrimonious accomplishing and case of those who abort to comply.”
These apropos were aggregate by migrants in Qatar. One artisan from Ugandasaid: “[The reforms] are a acceptable move, admitting they are continued overdue. The bad affair is that no one monitors the accomplishing of laws actuality and abounding workers don’t apperceive the laws, so administration can calmly bluff them.”
Despite the latest reforms, Qatar has yet to abode a alternation of added issues adverse workers. Hundreds of workers abide to die anniversary year of alien causes, but the government has bootless to agency analysis into their deaths. Trade unions abide banned and the majority of low-wage workers abide to pay actionable application fees to defended their jobs, abrogation abounding in debt bondage.
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