It has emerged that since Qatar was controversially handed the rights to hold the 2022 World Cup, over 700 Indian workers have been recorded dead.
One has to take into account though that the Indian Embassy are yet to reveal the details of those dead or the specific causes of death. However the embassy based in Doha has released shocking figures, showing that 237 people lost their lives in 2012 with a further 241 in 2013. The Guardian highlighted these statistics and also indicated that 24 have perished since the beginning of 2014, with that number continuing to rise.
Of course one can look at such figures with a degree of scepticism regarding the identity of those recorded as dead, not to mention the exact causes. Equally important to observe though is that earlier reports have demonstrated that out of the 185 Nepalese employees who have lost their lives in Qatar, over 2/3 have been due to sudden heart failure and work related incidents. As if the deaths themselves weren’t tragic enough, inevitably the numbers will continue to rise as there is an estimated 1.2 million workers fuelling the large construction boom.
In response to growing concerns around the safety of migrant workers helping to build for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar’s ministry of Labour and Social Affairs released a statement which expressed:
” We are working to understand the causes of these deaths- as these statistics could include a range of circumstances including natural circumstances, road safety incidents and a smaller proportion of work related incidents.”
In November Amnesty International warned in a report that workers were facing 12 hour long days in extremely hot conditions as well as living in squalid and heavily overpopulated accommodation. With this the International Trade Union Confederation has maintained that over 4,000 workers may die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 World Cup. The confederation has stressed the need for the reformation of the current Kafala system, which ties workers to their employers with strict control of the myriad construction companies and subcontractors involved.
With the aim to safeguard the rights of migrant employees a new 50 page document has been developed in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation. The charter insists that employers must install a telephone hotline for workers to report their concerns and allow workers 3 weeks paid annual holiday based on a 48 hour week that must not exceed 8 hours per day. Furthermore, the 10 guiding principles of this charter relate to areas like health and safety, dignity, equality and unlawful practices. The ITUC rebukes these proposals as not being effective enough for protecting the workers in the future.
Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, promised to address the issues the workers were facing and recently visited the Emir of Qatar for discussions on the deeply worrying figures. Despite such pleas the world footballing authority has since conceded that there is little it can do to aid the experience of migrant workers in Qatar, who have been reduced to slave like conditions in the development of infrastructure for the tournament in 2022.