Workers' welfare is of critical importance to the success of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC). It has the potential to create a transformative and truly global human and social legacy for the first FIFA World Cup™ to be held in the Middle East.
The health, safety, security and dignity of all workers employed on our projects is of the utmost importance to us. Our commitment has been constant since we were awarded the right to host the tournament in December 2010. In line with the guiding principles laid out in the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the steps taken by Qatar's government, we have never shirked our responsibility to our workers.
Communicating challenges and progress
We have always recognised the importance of communicating our progress in relation to workers' welfare. We employ an approach of open dialogue, including extensive consultations with non-governmental organisations. This involves attending events and conferences, both in Doha and internationally, where we can update interested parties on our workers’ welfare efforts.
Leading by example, SC Secretary General, H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, delivered a keynote speech during the opening of the 2018 Social Forum at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Al Thawadi’s participation built on previous SC engagements and collaboration with the UN, including:
• Hosting Mega Sport Events: Strengthening the Respect for Human Rights – an event organised in February 2018 by the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN in Geneva
• A special event from the UN Office for Drugs and Crime entitled Crime Prevention and Sustainable Development Through Sports, held in April 2018
• The 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, held in June 2018
In October 2018, the SC conveyed its commitment to workers’ welfare at a conference organised by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Institute of Human Rights and Business, which was supported by both the Ministry of Administrative Development Labour & Social Affairs and the International Labour Organization.
The conference allowed us to share some significant workers’ welfare achievements with Qatar’s most influential business leaders. Following on from the success of our drive to repay recruitment fees and amplify the voices of our workers, it offered a vital opportunity to discuss the reality of workers’ welfare in Qatar.
Other key interactions in 2018 included:
• A recruitment fee workshop with the NYU Stern School of Business, Center for Business and Human Rights in New York City
• Presentations at the 4th Modern Slavery & Human Rights in Supply Chain Conference and the Engineers Against Poverty 20th Anniversary event in London
We have often faced criticism about how our workers are treated. We accept that some of this criticism is warranted. However, as our Workers' Welfare Standards evolve, it is important to acknowledge the successes that these standards have helped us to achieve.
Over the past several years, we have spent tens of thousands of hours auditing and inspecting construction and accommodation sites and holding our contractors to account. As of September 2019, more than 212 million working hours were tallied up across all of our projects. The subsequent health & safety record of 0.03 accidents per 10,000 hours is as good as – if not better than – many countries far more developed than Qatar.
The close working relationship between our Workers' Welfare team and the teams on the ground at our stadium sites has helped us to gain the support of our contractors.
With our contractors' assistance, we are delivering innovative projects to protect and enhance the lives of our workers, including our nutrition study, cooling technology trials and skills training for workers.
We create these initiatives based on feedback from the workers our team has built personal relationships with. The team spends time earning the trust of these workers, as well as the contractors and stakeholders, whose close cooperation is vital to implementing our standards.
When we introduced our Workers' Welfare Standards in 2014, we understood that it was just the beginning. Since then we have worked tirelessly to implement these standards and improve conditions whenever possible. We will continue to protect our workers until the last brick is laid and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is ready for kick-off.