DUBAI (Reuters) — A Qatari company helping build a 2022 World Cup stadium has been banned from the event’s projects after its laborers went unpaid for months, organizers said on Thursday, in a case Amnesty International said showed inadequate worker welfare standards.
Around 100 employees of a Qatari subcontractor, Qatar Meta Coats (QMC), working on the Al Bayt stadium went up to seven months without pay and continue to be owed unpaid salaries, Amnesty said in a report.
QMC has also not renewed residency permits for most of its workers, necessary for foreigners working in Qatar, the rights watchdog said. Workers interviewed said they had paid fees ranging from US$900 to $2,000 to recruitment agents in their own countries for the job, it said.
QMC did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the tournament’s Qatari organizer, said it learned about the unpaid salaries in July and engaged with QMC and other stakeholders, resulting in three months of salaries being paid. The committee said owed wages continued to be paid.
QMC were taken off the stadium project and banned from working on World Cup projects until further notice, it said.
The supreme committee said it was “unacceptable” for workers to suffer hardships and that it was fully committed to the ethical treatment of workers.
Amnesty said the tournament organiser’s worker welfare standards were inadequate to prevent abuses and provide timely remedies.
It also accused FIFA of failing to take human rights abuses linked to the 2022 World Cup seriously.
FIFA said it shares concerns over unpaid wages for workers, but that it strongly disagreed this incident was a fair reflection of the processes in place to protect workers’ rights or FIFA’s commitment to human rights.
Qatar’s government communication office said QMC had been financially sanctioned and its operations suspended until all outstanding salaries were paid.
The company has since been sold and actions by the new owners to rectify “the neglect of the previous owner,” including renewing residency permits and health insurance, are being overseen by the labour ministry.
“The State of Qatar does not tolerate the unscrupulous treatment of workers,” it said.
Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Editing by William Maclean
By: Alexander Cornwell
Image: Workers are seen inside Al Bayt stadium built for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship, during a stadium tour, in Al Khor, north of Doha, Qatar, December 17, 2019. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)