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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Qatar agrees to introduce minimum wage as part of labour reforms

The planned reforms were announced on Wednesday on the eve of an International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting which could see the launch of a formal investigation by the UN agency into Qatar's treatment of migrant workers

Indian migrant workers form the largest contingent of global workers. AFP
Indian migrant workers form the largest contingent of global workers. AFP

Qatar has agreed to a range of labour reforms including the introduction of a minimum wage.

The reforms were announced on Wednesday on the eve of an International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting which could see the launch of a formal investigation by the UN agency into Qatar's treatment of migrant workers.

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 that Qatar 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 organisations, including one of its fiercest critics, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The ITUC, which has been unstinting in its criticism of Qatar, said it backed the reforms.

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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.

Since controversially being awarded the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has launched massive construction projects and faced huge international pressure to reform its labour laws.

The ILO meeting starting on Thursday in Geneva is expected to run until November 9, with Qatar being discussed towards the end of the meeting.