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FIFA Meets Trade Bodies Over Qatar Construction Worker Abuse

Wed 20th Nov 2013 | FIFA

FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the President of the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) and of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Michael Sommer, today agreed that fair working conditions must be introduced quickly, consistently and on a sustained basis in Qatar.

The meeting, which was held at the Home of FIFA in Zurich and lasted one hour, was mediated by the President of the German Football Association (DFB), Wolfgang Niersbach.

The FIFA President mandated Executive Committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger, who was also in attendance at the meeting, to continue talks with the ITUC and involve human rights and labour organisations in these talks. He also reported on his meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The meeting follows revelations of the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar working on infrastructure projects. A new report by Amnesty International found Qatar’s construction sector rife with abuse, with workers employed on multi-million dollar projects suffering serious exploitation. The report, The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup, unpicks complex contractual chains and reveals widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers - in some cases amounting to forced labour.

Following the meeting, Blatter, said: “Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar.

“That is why I welcome the initiative shown by the DFB and ITUC because together we can achieve change. I am convinced that Qatar is taking the situation very seriously. These very discussions about Qatar show just what an important role football can play in generating publicity and thus bringing about change.”

DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach, added: “The awarding of the World Cup and the considerable public exposure gives us the opportunity to point out irregularities and to exact lasting change. If we succeed, then a lot will have been achieved. It was a matter of priority for us to quickly bring together the International Trade Union Confederation and FIFA as contractual partners for Qatar.”

ITUC and DGB President Michael Sommer shared those sentiments, stating: “We are very pleased that FIFA and the DFB have joined us in our mission to establish humane working conditions in the host country of Qatar. Qatar must guarantee the ILO’s core labour standards and thus eliminate discrimination and forced labour as well as allow freedom of association for its 1.3 million migrant workers.”

Theo Zwanziger, added: “The aim is to be in a position to report on concrete measures for Qatar at the Executive Committee meeting in March 2014. Large companies must be reminded of their duties in this area. The international community must also accept its responsibility.”

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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