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Qatar World Cup construction costs lives of hundreds of workers a year

Qatar World Cup construction costs lives of hundreds of workers a year

Posted October. 30, 2013 08:02,   


A 40-something man from southern India died last month at a World Cup stadium construction site in Doha, Qatar. He took a job as a construction worker there in June last year to make money. Amid scorching summer heat with temperature reaching 50 degrees, he worked 11 hours a day and six days a week in the middle of Qatar`s desert. In Qatar, labor is banned for two months in summer time from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., but the employer didn`t care. He endured, despite tough conditions, hoping to return home after three to four years to marry her daughter off and build a new house. However, he suffered high fever last month and fell at his bed in the dormitory, and failed to wake up. When his fellow workers came after work, they found him dead of heart attack. An ambulance came to take him to the hospital and no one has heard of him since.

Le Monde and Guardian recently reported that hundreds of builders working in Qatar in the run-up to the 2022 Doha World Cup have died on construction sites due to slave labor. Qatar is the world`s wealthiest country with per capita income at 110,000 U.S. dollars.

Construction of social infrastructure facilities including roads, subways, hotels marine resorts and residential complexes are at its peak in Qatar. In particular, massive facilities construction is ongoing in Qatar`s new airport that is comparable with Dubai, a transportation hub. Qatar has yet to build a World Cup stadium, with 1.5 million foreign workers scheduled to be hired for its construction by 2022. These foreign workers are mostly from Southeast Asia such as India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and are paid 180-243 euros (248-335 dollars) per month.

According to data Le Monde obtained from the Indian Embassy in Qatar, 700 Indian workers died in Qatar between 2010 and 2012, and 159 died during the first nine months of this year. An official at the Embassy of Nepal in Qatar said, "An annual 200 Nepalese workers are dying on building sites." The cause of death included heart attack reaching 50-60 percent, and accident at work sites or traffic accident at 15 percent. It is estimated that one or two Nepalese workers in their 20s die of heart attack due to high fever, dehydration and overwork.

The problem is that the workers can`t opt to quit and return to home country. Most foreign workers who came to Qatar have high debt load from air flight and visa costs and thus their salary are in arrears for several months. Indian construction firm Saladin doesn`t grant residential permit to workers, who can`t remit their salary to home country and are on the brink of being arrested by police for deportation. The builder treated the workers in an inhumane way. One Nepalese worker said, "Seven to 10 workers were forced to sleep at a four-men room. We protested in hunger and the supervisor kicked me out and didn`t pay me."

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said 12 workers die on average a week, adding at least 4,000 workers will die by 2022 unless the Qatar government comes up with measures.

Slave labor is also a serious problem at the construction sites for Sochi Winter Olympics that will be held in Russia next year, says Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Hundreds of thousands of workers from Soviet Union work in Sochi. They are also suffering from low wage, labor exploitation, seizure of passport and delay in wage payment. In September, Uzbekistan workers building a media center there were jailed and deported due to passport expiration. They wages were overdue.