Hundreds of migrant workers strike in Qatar over working conditions

Workers at the construction site of Al-Wakrah Stadium (Al Janoub Stadium), some 15 kilometres on the outskirts of the Qatari capital Doha. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 August 2019
0

Hundreds of migrant workers strike in Qatar over working conditions

  • The “kafala” system is widely considered exploitative and gives employers excessive power over their employees
  • The “kafala” system can leave migrant workers vulnerable to forced labor by trapping them in employment situations in which their rights to fair wages, overtime pay, adequate housing, freedom of movement, and access to justice are at risk

LONDON: Hundreds of migrant workers in Qatar took part in a strike this week to protest against poor working conditions, unpaid and delayed wages, and threats that wages will be reduced, Human Rights Watch reported.
The “kafala” sponsorship labor system under which migrant workers’ legal status in Qatar – including their entry, residence, transfer, and exit – depends on a single employer-sponsor. It is widely considered exploitative and gives employers excessive power over their employees.
“The workers in Qatar are going on strike in a country that bans them from striking or joining unions, and against the backdrop of a labor system that leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Abusive labor practices that lead workers to take such a risk will continue until the Qatari government makes good on its promise to repeal the kafala system.”
The “kafala” system can leave migrant workers vulnerable to forced labor by trapping them in employment situations in which their rights to fair wages, overtime pay, adequate housing, freedom of movement, and access to justice are at risk.


Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies

Updated 8 min 53 sec ago

Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies

TUNIS: Tunisia's ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali died on Thursday, days after a free presidential election in his homeland, his family lawyer said.

“Ben Ali just died,” the lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha, told Reuters by phone.

Ben Ali fled Tunisia in January 2011 as his compatriots rose up against his oppressive rule in a revolution that inspired other Arab Spring uprisings abroad and led to a democratic transition at home.

On Sunday, Tunisians voted in an election that featured candidates from across the political spectrum, sending two political outsiders through to a second round vote unthinkable during Ben Ali's own era of power.

However, while they have enjoyed a much smoother march to democracy than citizens of the other Arab states that also rose up in 2011, many of them are economically worse off than they were under Ben Ali.

While almost all the candidates in Sunday's election were vocal champions of the revolution, one of them, Abir Moussi, campaigned as a supporter of Ben Ali's ousted government, receiving 4 percent of the votes.