The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has released its fifth Annual Workers’ Welfare Progress Report, covering the period from February to December 2019. The report highlights the progress made in ensuring the health and safety of SC workers building FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ infrastructure, while also acknowledging the challenges faced during the period.
The SC’s enforcement of the Workers’ Welfare Standards (WW Standards) resulted in a number of improvements during the reporting period including the timely payment of salaries, improved ethical recruitment practices, improved living conditions and enhanced health and safety initiatives for all SC workers.
The Workers’ Welfare Forums (WWF) – the SC’s flagship grievance platform that gives workers a voice – were extended to 23,164 SC and 10,140 non-SC workers. The WWF have been highly effective and have gained the trust of workers. The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MoADLSA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have studied this SC model with a view to implementing it across Qatar.
The SC’s Universal Reimbursement Scheme also continued to gain strength with 220 contractors and Other Contracting Parties (OCPs) agreeing to pay workers back in lieu of illegal recruitment fees charged by unscrupulous agents in their home countries. Around 44,900 workers will receive over QAR 110 million ($30.2 million) in reimbursement over a period of between 12 and 36 months.
Alongside better employment practices, health and safety continued to be a focus in 2019. The SC collaborated in a major study commissioned by the ILO and MoADLSA to monitor the impact of heat stress on workers. In addition, the roll out of StayQool cooling work-wear commenced in a phased approach, with over 12,000 suits deployed across five sites. A dedicated mental health pathway was developed alongside the Ministry of Public Health, providing workers with diagnosis and treatment for potential mental health issues. Nearly 37,000 workers were registered under the integrated electronic medical records system and 26,573 were covered by the SC’s comprehensive annual health screenings.
SC Secretary General, H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, said: “The latest report highlights some positive trends, which is a reflection of the maturity of our work. I am pleased to see our efforts spill over, positively impacting non-SC workers in many ways including remuneration and access to remedy, thus fuelling the critical legacy of improved conditions for the workforce in our country. Our initiatives are also influencing and helping develop best practice on a global scale.”
In line with the increasing maturity of the workers’ welfare programme, challenges still remain. The SC encountered ongoing resistance by some OCPs in complying with the WW Standards and SC requirements such as timely payment of salaries, resistance to facilitating audits and timely information around the mobilisation of OCPs. The SC’s Workers’ Welfare Department tackled these issues via its rigorous audit regime, which enables high-risk areas to be flagged early enough for effective remedial action. The SC is also working with MoADLSA to enforce strict sanctions in the case of non-compliance.
Further, a rapid increase of workforce during the final stages of construction on one site resulted in welfare and health and safety related challenges. The health and safety team subsequently increased monitoring activities and instituted a ‘zoning method’, ensuring that monitoring was far more targeted and any requisite remedial actions were completed efficiently. The learnings from this workforce expansion will inform the establishment of enhanced welfare measures at other stadiums, which may face similar challenges.
Mahmoud Qutub, Executive Director of the SC’s Workers' Welfare Department, said: “We are encouraged by the support and commitment shown by most of our contractors as we aim to raise the bar of workers’ welfare standards across the nation. Our learnings and progress through the years have prepared us to extend our Workers’ Welfare Standards beyond SC construction sites. We are now actively tackling workers’ welfare issues in the hospitality sector and other host country related services such as security, accommodation and transport, along with relevant stakeholders. We hope this will contribute to a lasting legacy as part of the Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup.”
The full report can be viewed here.