What's the issue?
Concerns over labour rights abuses in the Gulf have hit the international spotlight in recent years, linked to Qatar's unprecedented construction boom for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island.
The workforce for these massive construction projects largely consists of migrant workers from countries in South and Southeast Asia and increasingly, Africa. These workers are vulnerable to exploitation under the 'kafala' (sponsorship) system, which governs the recruitment, employment, and residency of migrant workers in host countries.
Examples of the abuses faced by migrant workers include late and non-payment of wages, high recruitment fees, passport retention, restrictions on freedom of movement and association, and harsh working and living conditions.
Until recently the construction industry has managed to avoid being at the centre of reporting on this issue, but this is changing, with recent reports tying allegations of migrant-worker mistreatment to multinational firms working on Qatar's Khalifa Stadium and other large-scale projects in the region.
What policies and practices do construction companies in Qatar and the UAE have in place to protect migrant workers?
Given the increasing focus on corporate responsibility for migrant worker welfare and labour rights in these countries, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is inviting 100 construction companies to participate in a survey, designed to try to understand what action companies are taking to protect vulnerable migrant workers.
To date we have contacted 47 companies to respond to our questionnaire. Of these 47, we have received responses from 10 companies, 5 have issued statements, and 10 have declined to respond. We have not received any responses from the remaining 22 companies.
What did we ask the companies?
How did they respond?
We welcome further information by companies at any point. Please contact [email protected] to submit a response or to find out more.
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