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Friday, January 28, 2022

Six months after UCI World Championship in Qatar, staff wait for pay


UCI Road World Championships

More than 100 staff hired on temporary contracts during the UCI Road World Championships in Doha last October have still not been paid, Doha News has learned.

The employees have been told via email that their payments are late due to “unforeseen reasons” faced by the event’s local organizing committee (LOC).

The unpaid event staff were employed in a wide range of roles, from official journalists and photographers, to drivers and catering staff.

2016 UCI Road World Championships

The workers, many of whom were employed by the LOC for more than a month, all had official contracts.

The race took place from Oct. 9 to 16 last year, and the employees expected payment for their work to follow shortly after the race finished.

The issue of late or non-existing payments is a long-standing one in Qatar and across the Gulf.

Qatar has been working to address this with a new Wage Protection System, but the problem persists.

‘Lost hope’

One of the 130 unpaid employees is owed QR6,000 for 13 days’ work.

He told Doha News that many of his former colleagues have gradually “lost hope” of ever being paid.

UCI Road World Championships 2016

The Doha resident, who asked not to be identified, said that a large group of staff had initially met to discuss their options.

They considered making official complaints with the Labor Court and the police, but gradually many members of the group gave up trying, he said.

He added that efforts to contact UCI management via email, Whatsapp and phone over the past several weeks proved fruitless.

“I went to the Qatar Sports Club (the LOC admin base) in person twice, but I always got the same response – insh’Allah (God willing),” he said.

‘No money left’

In an email to colleagues, another former unpaid employee summarized the group’s predicament:

“It has affected the lives of many of us and put us in a situation which is psychologically stressful – cancellation or postponement of personal or professional projects, difficulties to pay monthly rentals and/or loans, and unnecessary stress and worries.”

According to this email, unpaid employees had apparently been told by administration staff that the LOC had “no money left.”

Tour of Qatar 2016

Indeed, a few months after holding the UCI World Championships, officials said they would not be hosting the 2017 Tour of Qatar due to financial troubles.

That meant 2017 was the first time in 16 years that Qatar did not hold the men’s cycling event.

Apology – but no pay

Some UCI staff said they were promised that their salaries would eventually be paid by the Qatari government.

But then in March this year, the event’s organizers sent out an email to all unpaid employees promising payment soon.

UCI Road World Championships 2016

In the note, an unnamed HR manager at the LOC said:

“We would like to apologize for the delay in paying your financial dues due to unforeseen reasons by the organizing committee.

We would like to assure you that once we receive the financial resource dedicated for these payments, which we are expecting shortly, we will immediately pay your financial dues.”

The email also asked the former employees “not to consider any message” about the payments that was not sent to them from an official UCI source.

However, at the end of May, the staff have still not been paid.

Doha News attempted to reach various members of the Doha UCI LOC via email about this story over the past several weeks. But no one has replied to any of the messages.

Requests for comment from the UCI headquarters and the Ministry of Culture and Sports have also gone unanswered.


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