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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Official: Qatar’s kafala amendments to be made by year-end or 2015

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Suggesting a longer-than-anticipated delay in pushing through changes to Qatar’s labor law, a senior official has warned that promised reforms to the kafala sponsorship system may not take place until next year.

Speaking to Al Watan this week, the Ministry of Interior’s director of research and follow-up, Brig. Nasser Mohammed al Sayed, said a draft copy of the law is currently being discussed by various government bodies.

The legislation is supposed to make it easier for expats to switch jobs and leave the country, but has disappointed many residents who say it doesn’t go far enough to ensure their rights.

On the other hand, many in the Qatari business community have expressed concern that the changes go too far.

As part of the reforms, companies would also be required to pay their employees through direct bank transfers, making it easier for expats and the government to scrutinize and document any late or non-existing payments.

Al Sayed was quoted as saying, as translated by the Qatar Tribune:

“The law will be implemented after all legal procedures are completed by the Shura Council and Qatar Chamber. The law will be ready by this year or the coming one.”

Delayed timeline

Qatar has been talking about changing kafala for years.

The most recent pledges to reform the labor law began in March, when members of the European Parliament who were visiting the country said that Qatar was planning a “deep revision of the old system” by September.

According to a government-commissioned report that made several recommendations to improve working and living conditions for expats here, the changes were expected to be made even earlier, by the end of May 2014.

However, DLA Piper’s timeline did not come to pass. The latest official update came last month, when Qatar’s labor minister said proposed changes would be implemented “as quickly as possible.”

Though it is unclear when reform will be made, Qatar officials have not hesitated to tout the new potential legislation abroad as a response to criticism of the country’s human rights record.

That record is increasingly under scrutiny due to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

To prepare for the tournament, the country will have to hire hundreds of thousands of blue-collar expats to help it build the infrastructure, public transport system and stadiums needed ahead of the games.

Thoughts?

34 COMMENTS

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brorick
brorick
6 years ago

say wallah!

I think everyone knows its deffo not going to be this year. everyone is hoping it will be by maximum start of next year, but everyone is expecting it to be just after the 2022 world cup.

DB
DB
6 years ago

They’ve bought themselves some time by announcing that changes are in the works, but another year or 18 months? That’s pushing it. With the pressure increasing, they’ve got to do something real.

Jimarchy
Jimarchy
6 years ago

As quickly as possible… Hmmm…. Its obiovuly not a priority then. They can move quickly when it suits them.

Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years ago

Exit permits are a control tool for all humans living in qatar; it makes you feel like you are in a jail with no bars just like a person on parole

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

“Qatar has been talking about changing kafala for years.”

And I suspect Qatar will keep talking about it for years…

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Yadda yadda yadda….

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

In other words…. the changes have been delayed further until after the FIFA corruption report is due back from Michael Garcia. I bet that’s a total coincidence.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Earlier in the year, the worlds media went back home all happy that changes were to be made.
Now that the media have not been back to follow this up it can slow down and they will hope disapear with no changes.
However, as soon as the media get a whiff that nothing has been done, they will be back in a flash and we will be reading how change is on the way very shortly, once again.

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

You can see the evidence of your point in this recent article on CNN about Lusail, where they state that changes were made in May. To the casual reader one would assume that Qatar has actually done something to improve the situation even though nothing has been done. Empty promises…..

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/19/tech/innovation/city-of-tomorrow-lusail/

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

What they forgot to mention is that 2015 is in the Islamic calender not the Greogrian one….

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

In other news the 2022 World Cup has been delayed until 2033.

expat viewer
expat viewer
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

hahaha

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Lets just face it…… Somethings just take forever

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago

As I have said before they cannot make any real changes to the system or construction will grind to a halt. The same thing has been around for millennia. The slaves want freedom and the masters do not want to give it to them. The interest groups are polar opposite and move very slowly. One must remember that the construction plans for Qatar were all based on the old “slavery” type of system for sourcing workers. They cannot possibly reach their target timelines if they allow changes.

I am not advocating this system as it is inhumane but I do see the massive problems with changing it now. To do it properly Qatar must choose between two options. 1: Give everyone their full freedoms like a normal “real world” country and accept that they will have to give up on things like the WC as they cannot make the timeline or 2: give everyone their freedoms but pay a fair rate to all workers in order to keep their services. They make the timelines, keep the WC but the costs soar for the project.

The game in the meantime is to delay and delay during which time the work progresses. By the time some minor changes are introduced that will cause a few issues for them, the hope is that enough work is done so they can still make the deadlines.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

That makes a lot of sense, except I don’t currently see the appropriate amount and timeliness of spending required to finish all the construction in time, even if no changes are made to the system

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Perhaps they are waiting to get the final go ahead for the WC. Then they may ramp it up.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Are you saying that a free and open labour market would scupper the WC timelines? Surely a free competitive market would result in increased salaries and make Qatar a utopian magnet for (better?) expat labour. It would incentivise/motivate the workforce to work the same long hours, and in fact with a happier workforce productivity would go up. Of course it won’t happen because the whole point of the Kafala is to depress salaries irrespective of any other considerations. However, no amount of changes to the Kafala will overcome the sheer incompetence of the Qatari Client bodies in procuring construction, which is the true cause of delay. And I’m not just saying that out out of scorn, but out of hands-on experience of unworkable contracts, incomplete design, inadequate tender analysis, and untimely changes of mind. Even incompetent contractors come way down the list of causes of delay.

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Unfortunately, the Qatari Market prefers 5 cheap unskilled laborers to 1 skilled laborer, even if the latter could do a better job than the 5 former put together and make for better quality and efficient construction. They cannot imagine having to pay a carpenter, electrician, plumber, etc at normal first world rates or treating them as equal human beings. So they will continue to hire unskilled labor for these posts and then wonder why the quality of construction is so much worse/ deadlines are never met.

A free and open labor market would never suit this market as the few skilled workforce who are stuck on unfair contract terms would then be able to jump ship to deserving jobs. There is a long way to go and a lot of mentality changes required before things in this country move away from the “Kafala” system.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

My point was that if they give people the ability to move jobs or leave the country but keep accommodation/salary the same then the movement will cause huge delays while they replace staff. The second option was to give the freedoms but pay and treat people properly so they keep them in place. Deadlines are met (more or less) but the costs rise.

Illusionist's wife
Illusionist's wife
6 years ago

Are we really surprised???

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Yawn..did someone say ‘Kafala’ and ‘no change’? Never will there be any meaningful change unless trade and military assistance is restricted by the world police (USA, England,France etc). It’s all lip service to keep the media and human rights groups at bay. Wait another 3 months and we will hear another half hearted attempt to assure us they are amending the system, whilst nothing really happens. As predictable as seeing a speeding tailgating LC on Al Wabb Street.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

This is a reply to the post from Abdulrahman. Sorry!

You might want to have a look online about the issue of Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada, because I think you’ve got some wires crossed.

TFWs in Canada ARE eligible for health insurance, unless they are on a short term contract, in which case it is their employer’s responsibility to provide private health insurance.

TFWs in Canada ARE able to bring their families, and in certain situations their family has access to public health insurance.

TFWs in Canada ARE eligible to change jobs, provided that they have been made redundant at no fault of their own. They are even eligible to apply for Citizenship.

TFWs in Canada ARE eligible to apply for unemployment benefits, under certain situations.

TFWs in Canada ARE eligible to join unions.

TFWs in Canada ARE able to retain their passports, and refuse to hand them to employers.

TFWs in Canada ARE able to refuse to work in an environment that they reasonably feel is unsafe, and it is illegal for their employer to punish them for doing so.

Shall I go on?

http://www.welcomebc.ca/welcome_bc/media/Media-Gallery/docs/tfw_english.pdf

Samuel
Samuel
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Very well summarized. Did you know that all Gulf countries were forced to abandon slavery by US/UK governments as a condition to developing and exploiting their oil resources? Funny how once they have been developed and those countries have immense wealth the world turn a blind eye to every imaginable form of human rights abuse in this region… If they did as you said today, we would see an end to all this by tomorrow, sadly though money is more influential than a good set of morals…

Rodd
Rodd
6 years ago

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
― Abraham Lincoln

R_Chow
R_Chow
6 years ago
Reply to  Rodd

Does this line apply to the America where Lincoln was born?!!!

Chillaxxx
Chillaxxx
6 years ago
Reply to  R_Chow

Not to Native Americans though

Bling
Bling
6 years ago

Qatar is really afraid of taking new steps. like they are afraid of changes.

Foxwbigears
Foxwbigears
6 years ago

I am sure now, Qatar can kiss the W cup 2022 Goodbye, i remember in 2010 on the side front of the Ramada Hotel they had that huge painted advertisment : a World cup player, and it said: expect amazing!, well Qatar you have the resources, money wise to pull this off, make all the workers happy, make all the worlds labor, rights groups happy. All you need to do is make this Nice country a place where people want to work, where they will be happy here! I have seen this pkace over the years improve a lot, but it is just not fast enough, you have had years to fix it. Why delay now?

Mehrea
6 years ago

I am afraid it’s gonna remain a day dream among the expats. Lots of rumors has spread hopping there might be a chance to get a better payment. These days it seems the winds of change has blown away in to thin air because they are telling us that it has been delayed. May be forever? Domination of exploitation will prosper. Work or leave! No no…..

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

By the time FIFA make their “final decision” in late 2015 as to whether Qatar will retain the World Cup, it will be too late to change. That’s why FIFA chose the timescale, and the minute WC2022 Qatar is confirmed you can forget all about changes to the Kafala and Doha News won’t have to keep printing such lip-serving rubbish. Frustratingly of course only those who understand Qatar publish their thoughts, and with few exceptions only on the online pages of a newspaper that nobody outside Qatar reads. We’re wasting our time even commenting.

BBCA
BBCA
6 years ago

This is lame.

Bornrich
Bornrich
6 years ago

The Qataris have said that change will come, so it will come. These people are true to their word. So we wait… in hope…

Frances Yuzon
Frances Yuzon
6 years ago

The Kafala system is nothing but modern day slavery. My personal experience – I resigned from a very reputable semi-government organization and when hired, was told that I should get commissions apart from my basic pay since I was in sales, which never came even after a year of waiting and so I resigned. I had to go seek help from the court of justice to get my pending payments, and it took about 3 months after my last working day, until they finally paid a portion of it. The rest they said will be paid when they implement a new structure. It’s now almost 6 months since I left, still no update if I will still ever get paid. After my visa was cancelled, the mandoob of the company said if I would like to come back I should just send an email to notify them to provide the NOC. Now, the mandoob would not even reply to my email. What I’m trying to say is – I had a very good reason why I resigned from the company, I was not being paid! But with the Kafala system, even if one is in such a situation, the sponsor still is in control – SLAVERY, enough said. Where is the human rights here?

Muhammad Rehman
Muhammad Rehman
6 years ago

when will change Qatar Labour law

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