ITUC dismayed at Swiss court judgement on migrant workers
THE ITUC and Playfair Qatar slammed the Swiss courts yesterday for rejecting trade union claims that Fifa should have forced Qatar to abolish its disgusting labour laws before being awarded the 2022 World Cup.
The Bangladeshi Free Trade Union Congress, Bangladesh Building and Wood Workers Federation and Dutch Trade Union Confederation (FNV) threatened to sue football’s governing body in October over the continued abuse of migrant workers in Qatar.
However, the court decided that Fifa have done no wrong, something ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow strongly disagrees with.
She told the Star: “This decision in no way absolves Fifa of responsibility for the rights of the workforce that is delivering the vast infrastructure package which makes the holding of the World Cup possible.
“Fifa president Gianni Infantino has pledged to put pressure on Qatar over the treatment of migrant workers, and there can be no excuse for further delay in putting those words into action.
“Qatar’s cosmetic announcements about its antiquated labour laws, including the relabelling of the kafala system, mean that hundreds of thousands of workers there remain completely at the mercy of their employers and of a government that shows no concern for their rights under international law.
“It is simply unacceptable that a World Cup could be delivered through such an exploitative system of modern slavery.”
Playfair Qatar’s co-ordinator Stephen Russell told the Star that the decision “illustrates how national laws are inadequate in enforcing respect for human rights by companies commissioning work from countries where workers have little protection.
“The Swiss courts may have found that Fifa hasn’t broken Swiss law but they still have a moral responsibility to use their power to protect all workers engaged in World Cup related activity.”
Fifa “welcomed” the decision, while claiming that it “takes the issue of working conditions and human rights in connection with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar very seriously.”
Qatar’s grotesque treatment of migrant workers has come under scrutiny ever since the gas-rich country was given the World Cup in 2010, with particular criticism of its kafala system, which was likened to modern-day slavery and sees workers forced to pay recruitment fees, having their passports confiscated, failing to receive wages as well as health and safety breaches.
Qatar reformed its laws last month though Playfair Qatar said at the time that they would be surprised if the changes were positive and that the laws still left “hundreds of thousands of workers, building infrastructure crucial to the delivery of the 2022 World Cup, yet to benefit from this potential advance.”