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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Bus driver strike over unpaid wages at Qatar Foundation averted

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QF buses

For the second time in two months, bus drivers who shuttle students between Education City and the Qatar National Convention Center have fallen into a pay dispute with their employer.

Upset over late payment of their September salaries, dozens of drivers on Sunday threatened to go on strike, according to several employees who spoke to Doha News.

The action was averted after supervisors assured them they would be paid, but three drivers have been fired after failing to show up for work in protest, said a supervisor at Gulf House of Trading & Contracting Co., which supplies drivers to Qatar Foundation, among other companies.

The manager added that salaries were late because of Eid holidays and a backlog in payment processing at its bank when businesses reopened this week.

Last month, Northwestern University in Qatar journalism students reported that workers had gone on strike for an hour because they claimed they had not been paid. They returned to work later that day after being promised their wages.

The drivers’ shuttle service provides a critical transportation link for students between the convention center and Education City, after ongoing construction projects prompted officials to ban students from parking on campus in August.

What happened

Speaking to Doha News, Gulf House supervisor John Kennedy said that company managers visited the workers on Sunday evening and told them that they would be paid the following day.

The workers said they were paid Monday, but three failed to show up for work that day and were fired, according to Kennedy. Several drivers also told Doha News that they were threatened with imprisonment if they went on strike, a claim Gulf House officials deny.

It is unclear who ordered the termination of the drivers. Two other Gulf House managers reached by Doha News were adamant that their company did not fire anyone, adding that the firm does not punish workers for striking.

“If they are waiting for their salary and they don’t show up for work, we probably (wouldn’t) take action,” said one operations manager.

According to Gulf House’s human resources and administration manager, QF officials ordered the drivers removed and that Gulf House was seeking details from its client.

A QF spokesman has declined to comment on the issue.

The drivers who spoke to Doha News said they are paid QR2,500 a month and are not given food, accommodation or transportation. Gulf House officials declined to discuss its workers’ compensation packages, but said the company both directly employs drivers and subcontracts them from other businesses.

Other drivers promised raises

The ongoing tension between Education City drivers and their employer is not the only labor dispute involving bus operators in Doha.

Drivers for three private schools went on strike in mid-September to demand better pay and treatment. Parents said at the time that they were not given adequate notice of the job action and were left scrambling to find alternative transportation options.

The head of transport at one of the affected institutions, Doha Modern Indian School, told Doha News on Wednesday that all the drivers have since returned to work.

Mohammed Siddique said the drivers were promised a pay increase, but did not know the amount or when it would come into effect.

The drivers, who also provide services to Cambridge School of Doha and the Cambridge International School for Girls, are contracted under Al Watan International Trading & Contracting Co., a subsidiary of Al Taleb Group.

The company reportedly filed a police report against the striking workers in September. Siddique said a court case is proceeding against 10 to 15 drivers, but that they are continuing to work in the meantime.

The drivers’ strikes are rare protests in a country that bans expats from forming trade unions and a sign, according to one academic, that workers are becoming more confident in pushing for higher pay and better working conditions.

Thoughts?

48 COMMENTS

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Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago

They should be able to form unions, then hopefully we can end the retarded system we have now

sadam
sadam
7 years ago

union is a retarded system.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Why?

sadam
sadam
7 years ago

because they do not have rights through striking and undermining successful institutions that provide jobs to their knees

Anon
Anon
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

You think 2500 riyals without food, housing or transport (ah, the irony) is fair..? The institution isn’t successful if all it’s employees, whether directly employed or contracted aren’t treated fairly. You sound faintly inhuman.

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I sounded like someone from Management.
Don’t get me wrong , I am not apathetic, just this morning i’ve spoken to one driver and he told me they we’re on strike due to 2 months worth of salary delay, they also found out that Qatar Foundation has been paying 7thousand riyals per driver it turned out the contractor (Gulf House of Trading & Contracting Co??) has been paying them just a little over 1thousand riyals per month.. it’s just sad.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

that’s why if an institution is shining with ethics and success, that same institution should get rid of Gulf House of Trading bla bla because it is complying with basic work rights

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

you’re repetitive, make a better use of dialectics

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

i don’t want to sound stupid, but can you enlighten me? i can’t seem to figure out online what dialectics is 🙁

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

dialectics /ˌdaɪəˈlɛktɪks/ n (functioning as plural or (sometimes) singular)

1. the study of reasoning or of argumentative methodology

2. a particular methodology or system; a logic

(source: Collins English dictionary)

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

People who abuse workers always think unions are retarded. Why do you think unions came into being in the first place?

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

If you did not have unions you wouldn’t have this jobless problem in the western world… It is caused by unions making companies and institutions uncompetitive and bringing them to a position of not being efficient

Pete
Pete
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Sure, it makes them uncompetitive with Asia and China who abuse their labourers. And that is not sustainable (abuse of labour).

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  Pete

i’ll tell you what is not sustainable.workers striking and undermining successful institutions that provide jobs to their knees, creating chaos,economic disruption. As long as it’s profitable and feasible it’s sustainable .an empire without slavery is simply unthinkable

Anon
Anon
7 years ago
Reply to  sadam

unions aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but if there’s anywhere in the world that really needs them, it’s exploitative and unaccountable regions such as the Gulf.

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I agree on you. But why would like you’ve said an exploitative and unaccountable regions would give expatriates such rights? Why could such create so much trouble for oneself.

HoHum
HoHum
7 years ago

The faculty and staff of Hamad Bin Khalifa University should speak up about the appalling treatment of these drivers. Or else QF no longer deserves to be held up as a shining example of a liberal new Qatar.

KK
KK
7 years ago

Pay these workers their salary on time. What is wrong what that ?

sadam
sadam
7 years ago
Reply to  KK

wrong question. i think the the proper question is Who are those idiots who did not pay their worker’s salary on time.
Ans. Management

Stefan Lory
Stefan Lory
7 years ago

What a surprise! Labours not get paid! As few days ago mentioned in international press, hopefully the FIFA take back the world cup 2022.

Qatari
Qatari
7 years ago
Reply to  Stefan Lory

haha thats not happening 😀

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

They may not take it back but it might be a poorly attended World Cup if the World at large turns its nose up at it and boycotts it.

Qatari
Qatari
7 years ago
Reply to  Diego

ya because that’s believable for football fanatics

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

Not every football fanatic is without a moral compass, don’t be to sure of yourself

Qatari
Qatari
7 years ago
Reply to  Diego

ya for all I heard about why people dont want the world cup in doha–> the number one reason was alcohol… what a huge moral compass they have.

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

And all the time I was thinking slavery was the reason(well they tell me alcohol is legal most everywhere while slavery isn’t)

Aisha
Aisha
7 years ago
Reply to  Diego

slavery ?? where you mean here in Qatar ??

Qatari
Qatari
7 years ago
Reply to  Diego

slavery? what slavery? we don’t own these people so they arent our slaves they came with their own will to work… you call that slavery? wow go look it up in the dictonary.

and you on the other hand accept killing (drunk driving), drinking addiction and disease from this stupid issue.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

For the vast majority of the world, alcohol is not a morality issue any more than eating lamb is for you. If Qataris hope to successfully hold global events, Qatar will have to take a global perspective on this and other issues.

Molten Metal
Molten Metal
7 years ago
Reply to  Qatari

Haha

Aisha
Aisha
7 years ago
Reply to  Diego

listen nothing is going to be poorly attended and no nose is going anywhere to boycott what ever you said, Qatar is going to rise to the occasion and will be the best in 2022 i can guarantee that

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

I hope it will be a successful WC.By the way, since you are guaranteeing things, can you guarantee that 1) workers conditions will improve,2) they will not have passports witheld,3) they will get salary increases,4)they will get the salaries they were promised,5) contracts will not be torn up and re issued with different conditions? I hope so.

Aisha
Aisha
7 years ago
Reply to  Diego

yes i do guarantee that,remember Qatar is improving and growing each day and as a Qatari i know for a fact its going to get better with time (:

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

And what are you doing to guarantee it? Worker conditions are not improving, and the vast majority of people who are raising concerns about their treatment are not Qatari. The majority (yes, there are exceptions) of Qataris speaking publicly on the issue are making statements to the effect that everything is great, the workers are happy, and that the complaints and accusations of mistreatment are false. And when people complain about this, they are called haters of Qatar, racists, and worse. Hardly a recipe for success.

Aisha
Aisha
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Qatar is growing and that being said more issues will pop up,more problems will accrue but Qatar is doing a great job with handling it

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

I agree that growth creates problems and that more will pop up as growth continues. And in many areas the Qatar authorities are handling this very well.

However, I think the point of many of these stories is that Qatar is NOT handling its labor issues well.

Aisha
Aisha
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

i got to disagree with you,what I’m seeing is different no disrespect to your opinion. human rights have there doors wide open for workers,maids and anyone who is associated with labor in that manner.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

So you are saying that the workers are very well treated in Qatar? And that human rights violations are few and that the government is enforcing the laws of Qatar with regard to the workers–being paid in full and on time, not holding their passports, meeting the contract?

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

But you may not have a good handle on things.How can a Nepalise worker , and an example is my security person at my villa, live on 900.00QR per month, plus 200.00 for food and then send money home to Nepal? Which he does every month, faithfully.I know because he gets me to go to QNB ATM machine to withdraw the money so he can then go to send 800QR to his family.Then he works more than 80 hours per week because he is scared that the owners will pop by at anytime to show an apartment or check things out…..Now how many time have you went out to a restaurant and bought a meal for more than 900 QR?

Diego
Diego
7 years ago
Reply to  Aisha

I believe you and the Qataris that I know would want the same.However for some reason the labor issue has gotten to the point where it really needs to be addressed.Perhaps it is unscrupulous people who run some of the Companies looking to make a quick dollar.Personally if Sharia Law was enforced upon some of those types rather than on someone like Dorje Gerung, then that would get my respect.

Stefan Lory
Stefan Lory
7 years ago

Thats a good joke: Qatar as an tourist destination. What you will do there? Boring in malls, see the desert & rude locals… Never again, my foot will step in an muslim country…

Ibrahim
Ibrahim
7 years ago

The drivers have all the right to strike. If you’re not going to pay me, I’m not working. As simple as that. Their salary is their SIMPLEST right, yet they have to fight for this right. Shame on their company. I hope someone takes actions against them. It would be nice if QF boycotts the supplier. They have to learn to respect their workers.

Susan
Susan
7 years ago

To be fair, this sounds like it’s more a problem with the subcontractor/busing company not paying its workers on time than QF’s doing — but QF also bears some responsibility because they should only be working/contracting with companies that guarantee decent treatment of their employees — and nonpayment of wages is far from decent treatment. This reflects badly upon QF.

And if the following quote is accurate — “QF officials ordered the drivers removed” — then QF is not only culpable, they’re being douche bags about things too.

Anon
Anon
7 years ago

‘The drivers, who also provide services to Cambridge School of Doha and
the Cambridge International School for Girls, are contracted under Al
Watan International Trading & Contracting Co., a subsidiary of Al
Taleb Group.’

this paragraph speaks volumes…..the web of contractors, subsidiaries and sub-contractors all add to the litany of bureaucracy excuses, blame and general confusion.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

These are exactly the sort of people we want to make sure are disgruntled, distracted and underpaid–the people who drive our children around. I say lock the ingrates up. After all, it’s not like their negligence killed children. Oh, wait a minute, that’s a different case (although I am sure those killers are still being paid on time).

ChaTo
7 years ago

I work for QF as a scientist and I am ALWAYS paid on time. Why can’t the bus drivers be paid on time, too?

Molten Metal
Molten Metal
7 years ago

Isn’t it inhuman that people working as security staff has to work 365 days a year? ( I know few personally)

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