World Cup 2022 host Qatar, under global scrutiny over its alleged ill-treatment of foreign workers, has agreed to a range of labour reforms including the introduction of a minimum wage.
Other proposed changes include job contracts being lodged with the government so they cannot be changed on arrival in Qatar, and employers no longer being able to stop staff from leaving the country.
Separately, state media announced the gas-rich emirate has signed bilateral accords with 36 countries from which it draws most of its two-million-strong foreign workforce, to provide legal protection for workers.
The wide-ranging reforms have apparently been agreed between the Qatari government and various organizations, including one of its fiercest critics, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The reforms were announced on the eve of an International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting that could see the launch of a formal investigation by the UN agency into Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers.
ITUC said they backed the reforms.
“The new guidance from Qatar signals the start of real reforms in Qatar which will bring to an end the use of modern slavery and puts the country on the pathway to meeting its international legal obligations on workers’ rights,” said Sharan Burrow, its general secretary.
The minimum wage initiative and the bilateral agreements were announced by Issa Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi, minister of administrative development, labour and social affairs, during a meeting with foreign diplomats.
No details were given of when the minimum wage would be introduced or at what level.