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Qatar agrees joint World Cup stadium inspections

16 November 2016, 16:14

Doha - Qatar World Cup 2022 organisers, under fire over labour conditions, said Tuesday they will allow international trade union inspections of stadium sites from next year.

Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy announced an agreement with the global Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) group for joint inspections of construction and accommodation sites.

"Signing this partnership with BWI is a major step for the Supreme Committee which demonstrates our commitment to the health and safety of our workers," said the committee's head, Hassan Al-Thawadi, in a statement.

The inspections will begin in January 2017, said the statement.

The BWI represents more than 300 trade unions representing some 12 million members globally, according to its website.

The confederation has been critical of Qatar in the past urging it stop abuse of workers. Last year it stated that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

Ambet Yuson, BWI's general secretary, said the agreement was an important step to "ensure workers' safety on projects directly related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup".

The union and the supreme committee will also form a joint working group that will report on the inspections.

These reports will be "independent" and released to the public, added the statement.

The announcement comes as Qatar prepares to dramatically increase the number of labourers working on World Cup projects from around 10,000 to more than 30,000 over the next year.

Since being awarded the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has faced criticism over its treatment of migrant labourers from unions and human rights' groups.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International accused Qatar of using "forced labour" at a World Cup site, the Khalifa International Stadium.

Last month it was announced that Anil Kumar Pasman, a 29-year-old Nepalese labourer, had died in an accident at the Al-Wakrah stadium, the first "work-related" fatality announced by Qatar World Cup organisers.

Qatar though has denied claims of human rights abuse against workers.

The gas-rich emirate is in the process of introducing several labour reforms.

Last year it brought in the Wage Protection System, which ensures workers receive their salary on time.

In October Doha announced it was establishing a panel, with a judge as its head, to oversee labour disputes.

Next month, it is expected to announce the end of its much-criticised "kafala" labour practice, which restricts workers' ability to change jobs and travel, with a contract system.

- AFP

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