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Monday, January 17, 2022

Report: Cambodia, Qatar in talks to send workers ahead of World Cup

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

A deal that could send Cambodian carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, welders and numerous blue-collar workers to Qatar is likely “soon,” but only if authorities can guarantee safer working conditions for its nationals, officials from the southeast Asian country have said.

According to the Khmer Times, Aspiring Cambodian migrant workers apparently applied for jobs in Qatar via job agencies in May, but cannot travel to Doha until their government receives assurances from Qatar labor ministry officials that construction sites meet “minimum safety standards.”

It is unclear how many Cambodians currently work in Qatar, but the number is likely small, as there is no diplomatic mission here.

Demand for new construction workers is expected to peak over the next few years in Qatar, as the country makes major infrastructure improvements and builds a new metro, new port and several stadiums in preparation for the World Cup in 2022

Negotiations

Talks between Qatar and Cambodia apparently began in February, with the Cambodian delegation emphasizing that a guarantee of good safety standards was necessary for a deal to go ahead.

Now Heng Sour, the spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Labor, has hinted that these talks may soon produce an agreement.

He told the Khmer Times that job opportunities in Qatar could benefit Cambodian workers:

“We want to open up the market for Cambodian workers. As long as the market benefits Cambodian workers, and is safe for Cambodian workers….we will send workers.”

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

According to one agency that will help send workers to Qatar, the job opportunities will benefit Cambodian workers in the long run:

“Working in Qatar could help Cambodians … the salary may be low, but Cambodian people can learn a lot in two years. They can build experience and knowledge. Then they will earn a much higher salary when they come home,” said Tha Varath, managing director of Korean company KCTC.

The agency added that employers in Qatar are “eager to hire” the men on their books.

Despite the financial benefits of a job overseas, there are dissenting voices in Cambodia.

Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Center for Legal Education, told the Khmer Times that many of those applying to work in Qatar are among the country’s most vulnerable:

“I think the Cambodian government should create jobs here instead of only sending people abroad. Sometimes these workers can’t even read or write their own name. They would become the most vulnerable group,” he said.

Safety

Qatar’s workplace safety record has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, with international media and rights groups accusing authorities of ignoring dangerous working conditions that can lead to death.

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

In June, Qatar’s government issued a public rebuttal against claims made in the Washington Post that thousands had died and would continue to be killed while building World Cup sites.

In its statement, Qatar’s government office said such allegations were “completely untrue,” adding:

“In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost. Not one.”

Though conditions on stadium sights may be strictly monitored, many other projects do not face the same scrutiny, rights groups have argued.

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

And though multiple road projects and Lusail City may not be directly considered World Cup sites, they are connected to Qatar’s hosting of the global event, and thus the welfare of workers on these projects should also be under scrutiny, they added.

Qatar has also come under enormous pressure to reform its kafala sponsorship system, which prevents expats from leaving the country or switching employers without their sponsor’s permission, among otherthings.

Although authorities announced last May that they would reform the system, no firm timeline has been set for when any changes will come into effect.

Similar deals

As the focus on Qatar’s workplace safety record intensifies ahead of 2022, a number of countries have tried to improve conditions for their nationals working here.

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

For example, the Philippines government has been in long-running talks to improve the salary and terms and conditions for its domestic workers, attempting to enforce a US$400 (QR1,457) monthly minimum wage.

In response, the Qatar government introduced an unofficial ban on new visas for domestic workers from the Philippines a couple years ago, resulting in a drastic reduction in the number of new Filipina maids arriving in Qatar.

Meanwhile, in May, Qatar became one of 21 countries which the Indonesian government banned its women from working in as domestic helpers for not doing enough to protect them from abuse.

The move followed comments from the Indonesian president to preserve the “pride and dignity” of Indonesian women.

Other countries, however, are continuing to encourage their workers to travel to work in Qatar, emphasizing the financial benefits of doing so.

Last month, the Pakistani government said that it was training some 200,000 of its nationals to work as blue-collar workers in Qatar to help build the Gulf country’s infrastructure in the run-up to the World Cup.

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

In response to safety questions, Provincial Labor Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar said at the time that his country would train future blue-collar workers to have an awareness of industrial safety and give them information about the dangers of human traffickers, as well as advice on how to avoid them.

And in February, Qatar labor officials approved work visas for 50,000 more Bangladeshi workers.

At the same time, a Bangladeshi minister announced that Qatar had agreed to force local companies to only hire nationals who had registered in a government database in their home country.

The move would theoretically reduce the role of recruiters, who often charge migrants illegal fees and make false salary promises.

Thoughts?

17 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Nice people the Cambodians and hard workers. Good move by Qatar as the large Indian and Filipino mafias need to be broken up and the workforce diversified more.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Can you elaborate on what you mean by “mafias” please

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

Indians and Filipinos are by far the largest communities, (ignoring Nepalese who only occupy low class jobs) and once you reach a critical mass in a company they tend to use their company for their own needs and the needs of their community. A company full of Indians will only want to recruit Indians, ditto for Filipinos.

A balance of nationalities is desirable for Qatar especially as the locals are outnumbered, you don’t want to be held to ransom by one community, which can happen when they get a stranglehold.

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Does it occur to you ever that probably India and Philippines have an economic boom in their respective countries and getting cheap labor from those sources are difficult

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Hence exploit new sources of labour supply

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I think you are right because most Asian countries are experiencing a booming economy and many white collar there don’t think it’s worth it to go to Qatar not unlike 15 and 20 years ago. There are only blue collar workers mostly bioyn to Qatar

Ali
Ali
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali

*going

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

India’s economy has stalled and they still boost the most people in poverty at over 300 million, however for some professional types the lure of the gulf is not as strong as it once was, they have more opportunities at home. As for the Phil, still 10% of their population are working overseas mainly in service roles and their economy is still mired in massive corruption which prevents progress.

anonymous
anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I am actually glad, no body appointed you in any Govt. Think tank, or economic analyst, or else, the global economy would go downhill. just a hint type FORD investments in Philiphiines and get a feel of how the economy there is on a take off mode. Again corruption is not just a third world issue, however you may be right that it can put temp speed breakers on the path.
Seriously mate, with pitiful knowledge of you makes me cringe , on how ignorant some people can be, but again, ignorance is a bliss, have a happy life

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  anonymous

You optimism is impressive but corruption in Phil is quite staggering, from the president down and that doesn’t even take into account the legalised theft by the POEA. How many politicans, judges and mayors are currently being investigated for corruption or alleged corruption? It’s huge.

Even on a local scale it’s bad. The major of bantangas and his brother leader of the local Mafia control the local economy, but then again like you said I know nothing and Phil is an example of the world’s best economy and corruption free paradise life all Filipinos lead.

ugly most
ugly most
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Anonymous,
Please ignore this MIMH. He is a foul mouth first grade racist. He is the first one to comment on every news article almost, and takes a big lead on commenting and stereo types. It’s best to ignore / leave racist foolish people as they are.

Check any of his comments in any news article on this site whenever any interesting news article comes MIMH hijacks the conversations towards racist discussions.

Pity his small brain.!!!

Kz
Kz
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

So some months ago you were complaining indians are being denied visas. Now you complaining there are too many of them. You dont seem to have a single view, keep changing it according to your whims and fancies.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Kz

Your memory is bad, I was just stating that Indian visas are being restricted and are hard to get. I wasn’t complaining. I couldn’t care less.

ugly most
ugly most
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Bloody racist, I know you would be the first to comment on this. Shame on you.

AFT
AFT
6 years ago

The mafia thing is inaccurate, the employer eventually decides which employees they would hire. Even for private companies having local sponsors the case is true.

I think what it all boils down to is economics of supply and demand, the considerations for the expats are no guarantee this will be observed once they get hired.

Kz
Kz
6 years ago

So some months ago you were complaining indians are being denied visas. Now you complaining there are too many of them. You seem to have some mental issues I guess.

ugly most
ugly most
6 years ago
Reply to  Kz

Seem to have…. Confirmed MIMH has and is chronic.

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