The publication of our second annual report marks two years of working with the Supreme Committee for Deliver & Legacy (the SC) as the External Compliance Monitor for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Impactt spent 152 person days auditing working conditions at 2022 FIFA World Cup sites.
We did this work against the backdrop of a momentous year for human rights in Qatar. In 2017 the government introduced significant labour law reforms. In response, the ILO closed the existing complaints procedure, paving the way for a three-year technical cooperation programme between the Government of Qatar and the ILO.
As these changes happened towards the end of the year, there has not yet been a measurable impact at worker level. Nevertheless there is clearly a new spirit abroad.
Perhaps the most positive manifestation of this new spirit is the SC’s progress on righting the wrong of recruitment fees. This is one of the most intractable issues facing workers travelling to the Middle East. We found that 96% of new recruits paid an average of USD 1,248 each to get their job. In late 2017, the SC started piloting a new approach – the ‘Universal Payment’ model, in which contractors give workers an allowance in recompense for fees that workers may have paid. Crucially, the allowance does not depend on workers providing receipts for the fees they paid. To date, the ‘Universal Payment’ will see 1,700 workers (equivalent to 10% of the workforce on SC sites) receive QAR 3 million (USD 824,000) during 2018. As of January 2018, this approach reached 10% of the workforce at SC sites. This is ground-breaking and it’s happening on a remarkable scale. We look forward to measuring the impact on workers in 2018 and seeing a wider roll out across the SC’s supply chain.
On worker representation, the SC has made huge progress in pushing contractors to hold elections for the Workers’ Welfare Forums (WWF), going above local law. A total of 8,000 workers participated in elections to choose their representatives. Now, all 24 main contractors have a WWF at their accommodation site. Not surprisingly, for many contractors this was their first exposure to workplace representation and elections, so the SC developed election guidelines for them. The novelty of this highlights how notable these advances really are. In terms of compliance, Impactt saw a significant increase in compliance on this issue from 28% last year to 67% this year. The key next step is to ensure the WWFs are effective and trusted, which will entail training the representatives.
Whilst the SC has made major strides in the two areas above, there are other areas where there has been less movement. Like last year, we are still seeing workers work excessive hours and consecutive days without rest. This goes hand-in-hand with contractors’ lack of accurate and reliable systems to monitor working hours. This remains a pervasive issue and may become more of a challenge as the workforce increases in the next two years. Much like recruitment fees, this is an area where the SC needs to commit its full organisational weight to driving solutions.
Another area that requires urgent attention is contracts and administration, which accounted for 15% of all non-compliances (second highest of all areas). Among the key issues is contract substitution (when a worker’s contract and/or wages change between leaving their home country and starting work in Qatar). This links with another set of concerning issues, namely the disjointed communication with workers before and after their journey to Qatar. Prior to leaving their home countries, workers are not always receiving offer letters, or when they are the letters are missing key information. Then, upon arrival in Qatar, workers do not always receive adequate inductions to ensure they are aware of their rights and prepared for their new environment. All of these issues add up to workers not being in full possession of the facts about their employment terms, and therefore more vulnerable to exploitation.
The SC has shown itself to be capable of pushing for unprecedented change, and bearing down on some of the most difficult issues to get results. We are delighted to be working with the SC for the next three years to support them in changing the game.
Download the full report here.