Qatar World Cup stadium workers struggle to secure salaries

The workers came from countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nepal and the Philippines, according to Amnesty. (AFP)
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Updated 11 June 2020

Qatar World Cup stadium workers struggle to secure salaries

  • Organizers of the 2022 World Cup said the case was “unacceptable”

LONDON: Migrant workers building a World Cup stadium in Qatar have been struggling to secure pay they are owed, a human rights group and the Qatari government said Wednesday, highlighting ongoing labor issues in the country.
Amnesty International said around 100 workers on the Al Bayt Stadium have had problems securing months of salaries from design and construction subcontractor Qatar Meta Coats.
“Although recent payments will provide some welcome relief for workers, Qatar’s World Cup organizers told us they had known about the salary delays since July 2019,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice. “This raises the question of why Qatar allowed workers to continue working for months without pay.
“For years we have been urging Qatar to reform the system, but clearly change has not come fast enough. It shouldn’t take an Amnesty investigation for workers to be paid what they are owed.”
The workers came from countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nepal and the Philippines, according to Amnesty.
Organizers of the 2022 World Cup said the case was “unacceptable” but said it came to light last year after audits and interviews with workers by their welfare department.
“Our efforts resulted in an initial payment of three months overdue salaries to workers,” the Doha-based organizing committee said. “We continued to exert every effort within our power to redress the issue.”
The government said it was made aware of Qatar Meta Coats’ owed salaries in September 2019, leading to the company being fined and operations suspended.
“Financial insecurity between November 2019 and April 2020 meant that Qatar Meta Coats’ workforce received irregular salary payments during this period,” the government said. “In May 2020, the issue was partially resolved and all salary payments from February to May were paid in full by the company.
“There are a small number of outstanding salary payments preceding February, which will be resolved in the coming days.”
Amnesty said some workers complained in January to Qatar’s labor tribunals.
Qatar was awarded the Middle East’s first World Cup in a FIFA vote in December 2010. Pressure from rights groups on conditions for workers intensified as Qatar started to build the infrastructure it lacked to host a major international sports event.
“There are still issues to overcome, including those related to the attitudes and behaviors of a small minority,” the government said. “This will take time, but we remain firmly committed to the task.”


‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

Updated 11 July 2020

‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

  • After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best

SPIELBERG, Austria: Lewis Hamilton said he survived some “heart in the mouth” moments on Saturday as he claimed a spectacular pole position in treacherous rain-swept conditions for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.
After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best as he outpaced nearest rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by more than 1.2 seconds.
His dramatic demonstration of supreme skill and speed on a wet track at the Red Bull Ring increased his record total of pole positions to 89.
“Honestly, I am pleased with that,” he said.
“What a tricky day! The weather is obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us and, a lot of the time, you cannot actually see where you are going.
“I had one big moment, on the lap before last, when I had a big aquaplane.
“I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the last lap, nice and clean. I love these days.”
The 35-year-old Briton had struggled with set-up issues on his Mercedes in Friday’s practice sessions, but said the team had resolved them and he was confident about Sunday’s race, whatever the conditions.
“Yesterday was a difficult day,” said Hamilton.
“It started off well in FP1 and then in FP2 there was a big issue for us, but we discovered it overnight — nothing major.
“I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry, but I am grateful for the rain, like always! I love these kind of conditions.
“Tomorrow looks like a much sunnier day, but we are prepared for both conditions and that’s where I want to start.
“So, I am glad it was a trouble-free session with no mistakes. That’s always a positive.”
Hamilton’s performance enabled him to prove also that his form has not been affected by his passionate support for the global Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-racism efforts launched in Formula One.
“I don’t feel like I need to refocus,” he said this week after finishing fifth in last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on the same circuit, won by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“My race was pretty strong. I need to do a better job, but I wouldn’t say I was distracted. I am focused on both — trying to fight and win this championship, but also fighting for equal rights.”
On Thursday, he said he was hoping to be able to take the knee again — as he and 13 other drivers did before last Sunday’s race — and was seeking a way to make this possible.
“If I can find a way of making sure it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job, then I will,” he said.