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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Report: Qatar contractor fires N. Korean workers over labor violations

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

Updated on Sept. 29 with comment from North Korean workers

Some 90 North Korean expats have been sacked and sent home by a Qatar-based construction company over “continuous serious violations” of labor rules that resulted in the recent death of one of the employees, an American news site has reported.

According to a memo obtained by Voice of America (VOA) Korean Service, officials from Qatar’s Construction Development Company (CDC) met earlier this week with representatives from an Embassy of the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea (DPRK) and informed them of the dismissals.

Memo between construction company and DPRK embassy representative
Memo between construction company and DPRK embassy representative

In the minutes of a meeting between the two sides, which was held on May 3, CDC told embassy officials that 90 of their 192 North Korean workers were being sent home after repeatedly breaking provisions of Qatar’s Labor Law (No. 14 of 2004).

The company apparently found that Korean supervisors who were responsible for the well-being of their workers “have been continuously forcing them to work more than 12 hours a day,” provided them with sub-standard food and regularly ignored health and safety procedures.

Articles 73 and 74 of Qatar’s Labor Law state that employees are not ordinarily allowed to work more than 48 hours a week, eight hours a day or a maximum of 10 hours a day with paid overtime. Article 75 adds that they must be given at least one rest day of 24 hours each week.

The memo added that the actions led to the death of a worker, although it does not give any details about the circumstances, and has “resulted in causing the company great inconvenience with the local authorities.”

It is not clear why the construction workers are being sent home, in addition to the supervisors.

However, in what was described as a show of “gratitude” toward the workers, the firm said it would not fire all of the North Korean employees. And those sent home will receive No Objection Certificates (NOCs) and would be able to return to Qatar to work for another company, the memo added.

Memo between construction company and DPRK embassy representative
Memo between construction company and DPRK embassy representative

The remaining 102 staff will be allowed to stay, but CDC warns that if they break any stipulated rules, their employment will be terminated and they will be sent home immediately.

According to the letter obtained by VOA, these rules include:

  • Misbehavior on-site;
  • Non-compliance with CDC health and safety procedure;
  • Absconding and working at other sites other than CDC;
  • Consuming and manufacturing banned substances;
  • Any kind of violation of local laws;
  • Thefts at the site/camp; and
  • Inappropriate behavior.

The managers of the Korean workers had to submit the names and original identity cards of the 90 workers to CDC by May 4, otherwise they would lose the right to get NOCs, the letter added.

A number of North Koreans in Qatar have disputed the allegations. An Son Sok, who said he was a stone mason and supervisor with CDC, told Doha News that none of the events in the memo took place and that the workers were not fired but went back to North Korea for a month’s leave.

CDC did not respond to requests for comment.

Qatar construction

The construction company has worked on a number of landmark projects in Qatar including the Emiri Terminal at Hamad International Airport, the St. Regis Hotel Doha, Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel and Commercial Bank Plaza in West Bay according to its website.

Marsa Malaz
Marsa Malaz

But it is not clear which project the sacked workers had been contracted to develop.

There are believed to be nearly 3,000 North Koreans working in Qatar, predominantly on construction sites.

Last year, international media reports surfaced about the conditions some North Koreans working in Qatar must endure.

In November, The Guardian quoted an unnamed manager of a tower project that had employed 50 North Koreans.

“They work constantly. I have even built a room for them so they can rest without having to go back to their labor camp,” the newspaper reports.

According to the newspaper, the workers received only around 10 percent of their salary during the three years they were in Qatar, with the rest reportedly going to North Korean-run authorities.

VOA also reported in December last year of poor housing conditions faced by the North Korean workers in Qatar.

And there were also several reported incidents in which North Koreans were arrested and investigated in Qatar over claims that they manufactured and distributed alcohol and drugs illegally, Seoul-based Daily NK reports.

Thoughts?

55 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

Well that’s them dead when they get home.

Whatever
Whatever
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

At least they will have an NOC.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Whatever

Dead men have no use for NOCs.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

TOTALLY chuckleaceous!!!

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Unless their new sponsor is Saint Peter 🙂

Mr. Reason.
Mr. Reason.
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

You must be American educated or should I say brainwashed.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. Reason.

Sorry but neither American, American educated or a lover of thier political system. You know some of us foreigners can speak English to a high level and think for ourselves.

Mr. Reason.
Mr. Reason.
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Good to hear that but what you said earlier didn’t seem any different from faux news crap thats fed to masses.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. Reason.

Yeah. Choice to live in America or North Korea. Let me think about it….

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
5 years ago
Reply to  Mr. Reason.

Those Americans, always spreading baseless propaganda about the Great Leader! Everyone knows nothing bad ever happens in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Americans’ so called ‘evidence’ purporting numerous human rights abuses is obviously wholly fabricated.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Deleting this thread for getting off track.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

I don’t see how this is getting off track. It would not be the first time North Korean workers have been set home and then executed by the regime as an example. It may not be nice but it’s a fact.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/north-korea-executions-torture-kim-jong-un

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

I don’t understand why Qatar is even getting involved with North Korean contractors, they are used as slave labour to generate foreign currency for the regieme. It doesn’t matter if they are being worked 2 hours or 20 hours a day they don’t receive one penny. Firing the workers just means imprisonment or death when they get home and persecution for their familes as they have failed the State. Maybe if they are lucky they will get shifted to another country to work as slaves.

The Qatar government should immediatley ban all North Korean companies from working in Qatar. They probably won’t as they value money over human lives.

Dukhan
Dukhan
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Because Qatar can decide for itself, no one is trying to intervene in your country’s foreign policy so you should’t intervene in others either.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Dukhan

Oh come one, countries regularly directly intervene or else try to influence the behaviour of other countries. How many countries is Qatar diddling with, directly or indirectly? Your comment is without merit.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Apply same rules to all contractors here. You will find millions of companies banned. 🙂

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Dukhan

So Qatar decides to do business with a country and its companies, (the two are the same) that tortures, murders and imprisons millions and who send slaves overseas to earn hard currency for the regieme.
I guess if cheap labour is all your care about then that shows where your morals lie.

Dukhan
Dukhan
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Western countries choose to do business with Israel. Enough said.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  Dukhan

Deleting this thread bc it’s off topic.

Susan
Susan
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

But that’s the incentive: cheaper labor than they can get anywhere else. They get fellow North Korean citizens enforcing inhumane labor conditions on them so the local authorities don’t have to dirty their own hands/reputations (and so they can then look serious about human rights when they are compelled to enforce existing labor rules). It’s a win-win for them.

Also — I loved this part: “The memo added that the actions led to the death of a worker, although it does not give any details about the circumstances, and has “resulted in causing the company great inconvenience with the local authorities.” ” Sorry to hear the death of a worker has so inconvenienced the company in its dealing with the local authorities…because clearly a worker’s life is not more important than making the company’s life convenient.

Andrew
Andrew
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I’m more surprised they get visas, given how closely aligned DPRK is to Russia.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

I guess Qatar assumes it better to spread out the nationalties than have the place overrun with Indians.

YG
YG
5 years ago

Article (73)
The maximum ordinary working hours shall be forty four hours per week at the rate of eight hours per day with the exception of the month of Ramadan when the maximum working hours shall be thirty six hours per month at the rate of six hours per day.

Article (74)
The workers may be required to work additional hours to the working hours specified in the preceding article provided that the actual working hours per day shall not exceed ten hours unless the work is necessary for the prevention of gross loss or dangerous accident or for the repair or alleviation of the consequences of the said loss or accident.

Born free
Born free
5 years ago

This just gets better and better… you could not make it up… is this real? North Korean workers?

Chilidog
Chilidog
5 years ago

There’s a lot here, so let me try and summarize:
* Employees are being dismissed because their negligence resulted in the death of a fellow worker (I have no problem with this action).
* The death of the worker resulted in “great inconvenience” to the company (because companies are more important than animal, ahem, human lives, or at least the red tape associated with a fatality is just too mush strain for a manager to bear?).
* Even though there was negligence that lead to a death, CDC still felt it necessary to show them “gratitude?” Why, for not killing more workers? Or for covering up other deaths so only one was actually reported? For working for so long and not requiring compensation? (I know I’m taking liberties toward conspiracy theory, but come on….. gratitude?)
* Even though some were sent home, some of the guilty parties are allowed to remain in above mentioned show of gratitude? (So let’s keep a handful of the unsafe workers…. What’s the worst that could happen?)
* All this with guys essentially working for free to enrich their government (sounds eerily familiar).

Born free is right, you can’t make this stuff up.

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

……….and Consuming and manufacturing banned substances…. what are this poor guys supposed to do if QDC is not going to let them in……so the problem is not really with the workers but with the company that would not sell it to them or allow them to get things the legal way

Observant One
Observant One
5 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

yeast and apple juice..2 or 3 days …. the drink of the slaves of Qatar.

Misha
Misha
5 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

How would 90 ppl be responsible for the death of a coworker?

Chilidog
Chilidog
5 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Yeah, after posting I realized I forgot that part. This whole story is too weird. Maybe the problem was bigger than one death but that’s all we’re hearing about? Maybe it’s not about a specific death at all but that’s the reason they’re using? I don’t know, but I guarantee we don’t have all the facts to make this make sense….. But as is often the case in Qatar, the people in charge of the PR are doing a terrible job.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago

Let me get this straight, the violations committed by some 90 workers have resulted in the death of a fellow employee. Wow… DN, would you please care to explain how that joint liability works?

Posthaze
Posthaze
5 years ago

wow this is actually the first time I’ve seen Articles 73 and 74 of Qatar’s Labor Law been used. there are ten’s of thousands if not hundreds(I guess?) private companies breaking this rule every day and no one bats an eye.

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago
Reply to  Posthaze

Exactly, the Syrian Democratic republic is a prime example of this and the Syrians are anything but democratic……

all seeing
all seeing
5 years ago

I must say the reporter does not know where is south and where is north korea

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea
You can always be sure any country that has the title democratic or people in it, is neither democratic or for the people. The same with countries with the words Islamic in them, usually they are religious dictatorships of a specific sect of Islam.

Win
Win
5 years ago

Very soon … Far East Asian Town ?

Teddy
Teddy
5 years ago

It sounds like they are doing something good for the workers.. for the first time.. letting them go home after being treated poorly and letting them have NOCs but they aren’t.. they are going back to a country where they will likely now be forced to work in a labour camp where they will be starved to death.. the injustice of it all.. I can’t handle it sometimes.

SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
5 years ago

The employment of North Korean labour to build construction projects. A new low in Qatar. 🙁

Yousef
Yousef
5 years ago

GREAT NEWS for QATAR …hire workers from a DICTATOR and you get FREE SLAVE LABOR !! !

do they even know about WW II and the HOLOCAUST ??

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

All a wicked myth created by the ‘West’. Jeeze, don’t they teach anything in school anymore?

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Yousef

I don’t think you can pin the holocaust or WWII on N. Korea, but mass imprisonment, slave labour camps, torture, state killings, kidnap of foreign nationals and mass starvation are defintely their area of expertise.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
5 years ago

…why doing business with North Korea…..?????
…the Emiri terminal that is not used because the Emir does not like it?

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago

………………..According to the newspaper, the workers received only around 10 percent of their salary during the three years they were in Qatar, with the rest reportedly going to North Korean-run authorities……..and this if true is going to be another big disaster. as they were supposed to be paid every month and through their bank accounts. If the money is paid to the authorities in North Korea then from where will the workers buy their groceries and basic necessities and how will they take care of themselves and their families back home

Gaserdyn
Gaserdyn
5 years ago

NORTH KOREA? WHAT?

Chris
Chris
5 years ago

Entire middle east is modern day concentration camps. The skyline smells the blood of migrant workers. Sickening to travel in these places.

Observant One
Observant One
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris

A truer 3 sentences have never been said.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Deleting for stereotyping.

Zaheer
Zaheer
5 years ago

No one marked last submitting date “by May 4” ? today is 7th of MAY =D

Misha
Misha
5 years ago

How did they choose which workers (from the non supervisors) were fired and which stayed? Ini mini miney moe?

If you don’t listen to your supervisor you get in trouble for going on strike, if you do listen then It seems you get fired! This is either ridiculous or highly suspicious.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

Why have they focussed on N. Koreans? My employment contract is with an ex- Syrian who was granted Qatari citizenship (think of the connection and work it out) and I work a 60 hour week with no paid overtime.

Suhaib Jamal Nasir
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

KCT? Lol

Marco
Marco
5 years ago

Someone signed the original contract thinking they would get a bargain basement price by using North Koreans. The route cause of their treatment would have been the demands agreed in this contract.

Gracie
Gracie
5 years ago

Why does Qatar only go for cheap labour/ have this large roadside community of Indians everywhere. Wouldn’t it be better to pay for quality work that will make the country look nice and developed? You would not believe this is one of the richest country in the world when you walk on unfinished pavements, pavements with loose tiles or buildings sinking/falling apart.

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