Sports

Qatar’s World Cup stadium staff engaged in debt and corruption Rights of staff

When England arrive on the Albeit Stadium for his or her match in opposition to the USA in simply over two months, they are going to be greeted by a powerful 60,000-seat area that resembles a nomadic tent.

The stadium, arguably Qatar’s best, will host matches from the opening sport to the semi-finals. If England attain this level by profitable their group, they may play 4 matches on the floor.

The pristine park surrounding the stadium is equally spectacular. The manicured lawns are dotted with fountains, streams and a lake. Geese play in chilly water. A working observe winds across the stadium passing a variety of immaculate coaching pitches with grassy greens.

Qatar’s 60,000-seat Al Bait Stadium is meant to resemble a Bedouin tent. Picture: Pat Pattison/The Guardian

But The individuals who toil day and night time in fixed warmth and humidity to take care of this superb inexperienced house – watering the land, mowing and painstakingly pulling weeds by hand – dwell in very totally different circumstances.

On the finish of every shift, they’re pushed for 40 minutes to the sting of the desert, the place they’re dropped off on the farm of their employer, the Al Sulaytin Agricultural and Industrial Advanced (SAIC). Inside, between rows of big greenhouses, they retreat to their rooms in small run-down cabins.

Some housed three or 4 staff in single beds, others in 5 or 6 bunks, however all seen by the Guardian had been windowless, cramped and soiled. Towels draped between the higher and decrease bunks present what little privateness there’s. Water bottles, cooking utensils and private belongings are saved beneath the beds. Garments dangle on traces on the partitions. The camp is as squalid as this journalist has seen in 9 years of reporting from Qatar.

FIFA and the native World Cup organizing physique, the Supreme Committee for Supply and Legacy (SC), have repeatedly claimed that the event has been a catalyst for altering the residing and dealing situations of low-wage staff in Qatar and throughout the area. However the Guardian’s findings expose severe flaws within the reform course of.

Employees engaged on World Cup-related tasks are alleged to take pleasure in superior remedy beneath strict “labor welfare requirements,” however this summer time staff at SAIC’s three World Cup stadiums – Al Bayt, Al Janab and Ahmed Bin Ali In interviews with – The Guardian heard the allegations As a consequence of a number of violations of those requirements.

All the employees interviewed, who hail from Bangladesh, Nepal and India, say they had been pressured to pay unlawful charges to brokers in their very own international locations to safe their jobs.

“I paid 300,000. [Bangladeshi taka]The equal of round £2,700, an enormous sum in Bangladesh, says one employee. “Some pay a bit extra, some rather less, however all pay.”

The World Cup’s native organizing committee launched a scheme in 2017 to incentivize its contractors to refund the recruitment charges of their staff. SAIC participates within the scheme and has refunded £29,000 to staff employed on contracts awarded to SAIC, the committee mentioned. But SAIC staff interviewed by the Guardian, who aren’t working beneath contract to the World Cup committee, say they’ve obtained nothing.

Two rows of rickety portable cabins with few windows.
A camp housing staff’ cabins at a number of of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums. Picture: Pat Pattison/The Guardian

A lot of the staff interviewed are incomes a primary wage of 1,000 rials (£225) a month, which equates to round £1 an hour. Meals and lodging are supplied by SAIC. The wage in Qatar is the authorized minimal, however staff say they battle to pay their recruitment charges, and related money owed, and to ship cash to their households on that wage.

“The pay may be very low, it is very troublesome. I can earn it in India,” says one employee who, after slicing again on his bills in Qatar, sends about £160 a month to his spouse and 4 kids. can

After continued criticism over its remedy of low-wage migrant staff, Qatar introduced a brand new regulation in 2020 promising to finish abuses. Sponsorship system – beneath which staff had been unable to alter jobs – however staff say SAIC refuses to launch them.

“The corporate won’t give. [permission to leave]. You’ll be able to solely change for those who go residence, cancel your visa and reapply,” says one employee.

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

A room full of personal possessions.  String hanging curtains offer the only privacy for bunk beds.
One of many rooms of the camp housing staff on the World Cup stadium in Qatar. Picture: Pat Pattison/The Guardian

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

Within the peak summer time months, staff rise earlier than daybreak and head to the Albeit Stadium – which value £620m to construct. By seven o’clock the warmth is insufferable, however Kabir* works to water the grass and timber.

He did not know if he can be engaged on a World Cup web site when he got here to Qatar, however he would not appear . “I am not excited concerning the World Cup,” he shrugs. “I do not suppose we will even go contained in the stadium.”

The one factor that basically worries him is his wage. Her household is determined by her modest earnings, however most of her wages go in the direction of shopping for again the jewelery she gave to a moneylender as collateral to cowl her £1,170 charge for her job. .

“Qatar is a wealthy nation, however they’re paying little or no for our work,” Kabir says. “You’ll be able to neglect concerning the good pay right here.”

The SC mentioned it “remained dedicated to utilizing the World Cup to result in lasting social change for our staff, enhancing their working and residing situations”.

It cited a variety of measures taken to enhance the working and residing requirements of staff, together with higher housing, measures to fight employee heatstroke, laws to introduce a minimal wage and staff Consists of permission to alter jobs, and a monitoring system. Corporations to make sure compliance with the regulation.

It added that “particular person circumstances of misconduct don’t paint an entire and correct image of the modifications happening in Qatar, the place 1000’s of firms have adjusted their work practices to adjust to new legal guidelines and laws.”

England’s Soccer Affiliation mentioned: “Any queries concerning the stadiums used throughout Qatar 2022 ought to be referred to event organizers FIFA.” It pointed to an earlier assertion that mentioned: “We consider that there’s proof of appreciable progress by Qatar on labor rights. Nonetheless, we acknowledge that there’s far more to be carried out.” Is.”

FIFA mentioned it was in contact with the Supreme Court docket concerning the allegations made by SAIC staff. It added: “Along with the wide selection of measures already launched, geared toward supporting staff concerned within the preparation and supply of the World Cup, FIFA has actively pushed for the implementation of wide-ranging labor reforms. are given which apply to all firms and tasks throughout the nation and profit all staff in Qatar.

SAIC didn’t reply to requests for remark.

* The title has been modified to guard his identification.

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