Worker protests delayed World Cup preparations in both South Africa and Brazil. Meanwhile, the situation is even more severe in Qatar, where workers are treated like slaves, according to trade unions. A CNN report.
The so called Kafala system – which ties employees to a specific employer – has, according to Human Rights Watch and the International Trade Union Confederation, been open to systematic abuse and created a de facto form of slavery for the more than one million migrant workers living within its borders.
Meanwhile, another million are expected to move here ahead of the 2022 World Cup to help with the massive $95 billion development project. Will their rights improve or should Qatar expect drastic measures like those seen in South Africa and Brazil, where underpaid and poorly treated workers blocked progress of several investments?
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, describes that talks between them, FIFA and Qatar 2022 organisers about working conditions went nowhere. "If two years on [since the award of the 2022 World Cup] the [Qatari] government has not done the fundamentals, they have no commitment to human rights."
Future hosts don’t see the situation as pessimistically, but acknowledge a lot has to change. Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement to CNN: "Our commitment is to change working conditions in order to ensure a lasting legacy of improved worker welfare. We are aware this cannot be done overnight. But the 2022 FIFA World Cup is acting as a catalyst for improvements in this regard."
They point to the Migrant Workers Welfare Charter that the government enacted last October, which pledges that all 2022 World Cup contractors and sub-contractors will be held accountable to strict standards of health and safety, equal treatment and safe and healthy living conditions.