News Column

Qatar taking concrete measures to protect workers, says Khulaifi

June 17, 2014


MINISTER of Labour and Social Affairs HE Dr Abdullah bin Saleh al Khulaifi on Monday said that the ministry is taking concrete steps to protect migrant labours' rights like developing worker-friendly legislations and policies on workers' import, residency, wages, safety, health and settlement of labour disputes.

Addressing the opening session of the international conference titled 'Doha Dialogue on Migration-2014', at Doha Marriott Hotel, Khulaifi said,"The ministry recently completed the necessary amendments to the labour law regarding the protection of wages, in coordination with Qatar Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Qatar as well as the local banks."

It is worth mentioning that all employers have been directed to pay their employees through bank in order to maintain transparency in wage payment.

Khulaifi added that the ministry has decided to establish Wages Protection Office and appoint sufficient numbers of trained personnel to ensure that the workers get their due salaries on time.

The Minister also talked about coordination between a number of government bodies to reconsider standards and specifications to provide decent housing for workers.

He added,"Work is underway to amend the labour law in order to give greater powers to labour inspectors to monitor offences and enforce laws regarding appropriate housing, workplace and occupational health and safety." He noted that the number of inspectors has been increased from 150 to 200 recently.

The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs added,"We received 10,840 labour complaints in 2013 of which 10,202, constituting 94 percent of the cases, were resolved."

He said,"We are in the process of discussing a cooperation programme with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to provide assistance in supervising the work conditions and in developing the abilities of the supervisors."

Khulaifi said that the manpower flow into Qatar, especially to its construction sector, has boomed due to the remarkable growth of its GDP, which reached 13 percent in 2013.

He said that employers vary in their commitment to apply labour laws adding that the ministry has taken several steps to guarantee salary payments via banks and on time as well as providing decent accommodation for the labourers.

Meanwhile, the participants admitted that the conference offered an opportunity to share experiences and make suggestions to the related stakeholders aiming to improve the living conditions of migrant people all over the world.

Asia Vice-President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Communities (IFRC), Dr Zhao Baije, said,"We are here today because we share a common concern about the vulnerabilities of migrant workers."

Baije said,"There are at least 17 million migrant workers in the Gulf countries constituting 40 percent of the population of this region. In Qatar, however the percentage of migrant workers is much more, reaching 80 percent of the total population."

These statistics trigger many questions about the living conditions of the migrant workers, she pointed out, adding that migrant workers contribute significantly to the development of their home economies as well as the economies of the host countries.

"Migration has now a significant position within global development and poverty-reduction agenda considering poverty, economic, gender and health aspects of labour migration," she pointed out.

The national communities of the IFRC have done great work in helping and supporting migrant workers since adopting our official policy on migration at Nairobi convention in 2009, she said.

Focusing on the global legal aspect of migration, Head of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, DR Faosto Bocar, said,"Migration laws and policies have reached the spotlight of the political agenda. Joint efforts in combating human trafficking should be intensified along with promoting more effective legal protection of migrants especially children and women."

Bocar figured out that 232 million migrants are estimated worldwide (3 percent of the world population) along with 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced persons."Middle-east and North Africa region and Asia Pacific are the key regions of migration flows including departure and destination," Bocar further said.

QRC President, Dr Mohamed bin Ghanem al Ali al Maadheed said that migration is a global phenomenon in which 50 percent of migrants migrate to neighbouring countries due to several reasons especially economic or security reasons.

Maadheed said,"QRC is mainly concerned with reducing the sufferings of vulnerable people along with protecting the human dignity." He added,"Gulf countries have unique migration challenges. And we hope that this dialogue contribute to practical solutions."

The 'Doha Dialogue on Migration 2014' has been organised by Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC). On Sunday closed-door discussions were held by the participants. The attendees also include international humanitarian leaders; presidents of more than 25 Gulf, Arab, Southeastern Asian, and European National Societies; top officials of major Qatari government and private institutions and corporations; and experts and specialists in migration, law, and labour worldwide.

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Source: Qatar Tribune

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