The State of Qatar affirmed its belief that the promotion and protection of human rights which include the expatriate workers’ rights, which is a strategic choice and the backbone of the comprehensive constitutional, economic, social and cultural reform policy of the State. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) said yesterday in a statement that it appreciates the work and effort involved in this latest report on Qatar by Amnesty International, adding that it disagrees with a number of its claims.
Significant changes have been made over the last year to improve the rights and conditions of expatriate workers, the statement said.
MOLSA has launched the Wage Protection System (WPS), an electronic payment system to ensure wages are paid on time. It has also strengthened the capacity of labour inspectors, which today total 294, with the aim of reaching 400 by the end of 2015. Last year there were 51,000 inspection visits made using GPS systems, and appropriate technology has also been provided to ensure inspection reports can be instantly filed electronically. MOLSA has continued to clamp down on companies and recruitment offices breaking our laws with fines and penalties. Those recruitment offices outside the boarders of Qatar who exploit and violate our laws have been banned to recruit for companies and recruitment offices within Qatar.
New accommodation for more than a quarter of a million workers is being built across Qatar, to the highest standards. MOLSA has also installed new electronic complaints systems, in seven languages throughout the country to ensure that all complaints reach the ministry electronically. Furthermore any complaints from Nepalese workers unable to return home to their families would be treated with the utmost respect and urgency.
The statement added that the majority of workers who come to Qatar earn considerably more than they would at home, collectively transferring more than $12bn (in 2014) in wages back to their home economies. For those who suffer poor treatment, MOLSA works to ensure that they receive all the support they need to improve their situation and that any company mistreating workers is sanctioned. Regretfully, some reports fail to outline this progress and do not provide a full picture of the issue.
This issue is not only the concern of the Gulf region but also of many other countries. We are all dealing with the unique challenges brought about by rapid economic growth and the high population of expatriate workers seeking better opportunities. Qatar aims to be a regional leader, driving change and improvement of standards across the region, the statement said.
MOLSA has always welcomed and been open to a range of viewpoints and ideas. No one should be in any doubt that we are committed to effective and sustainable change. MOLSA will continue working closely with NGOs, international organisations and the business community to deliver this commitment.