Thousands of migrant workers unpaid in Qatar, Amnesty says

Report says host of 2022 World Cup is still ‘playground for unscrupulous employers’

Hundreds of migrant workers in Qatar have gone without pay, with many forced go home penniless despite Doha's assurances that reforms would improve their rights, an Amnesty International report says.

"Despite the significant promises of reform that Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers," said Amnesty's deputy director of global issues, Stephen Cockburn.

Since being named host of World Cup 2022, Qatar has come under fire for poor labour conditions.

It relies on about 2 million migrant workers for most its labour force, mainly from Asian countries such as Nepal, India and the Philippines.

It has scrapped exit visas for most workers, introduced a minimum wage and established dispute resolution committees to fast-track complaints of unpaid wages.

But the Amnesty report describes how hundreds of workers still cannot recover unpaid wages.

In response, Qatar said it was still working on the reforms and "have said from the outset that this would take time, resources and commitment".

The report documents three Qatari companies that it said failed to pay more than 2,000 workers, leading 1,620 to submit complaints to the Committees for the Settlement of Labour Disputes.

The workers were employed by companies involved in construction and cleaning services but not directly related to World Cup projects, the report said.

"While some of them were eventually given part of what they were owed by their employers in exchange for dropping their cases, most went home with nothing," it said.

"None of the workers received compensation through the committee system."

The Qatari Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs told Amnesty that it had helped to negotiate many settlements and co-ordinated deliveries of food and generators to labour camps.

The International Labour Organisation dropped a case against Qatar in 2017 over its treatment of workers, partly because of its reform pledges.

The UN agency later opened an office in Doha to help carry out the new measures.

One of the reforms, a support fund for worker compensation announced in October 2018, "remains unfunded and unused, despite the urgent need", the Amnesty report said.