2022 FIFA World Cup: Pakistani workers in Qatar struggling to get their payments issue resolved

Around 150,000 Pakistanis are working in Qatar, according to Kashif Ahmed Noor, the director-general of the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Pakistanis.

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©FIFA.com

Pakistan has stepped in on behalf of its nationals in Qatar, who were working on the 2022 FIFA World Cup projects, by asking the gas-rich Gulf country to address payment issues, according to government officials.

Around 150,000 Pakistanis are working in Qatar, according to Kashif Ahmed Noor, the director-general of the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Pakistanis.

Migrant workers line up for the bus back to their housing camp in Doha, Qatar, on November 19. EPA/LANDOV

“In 2015, the Qatari government had promised 100,000 jobs related to World Cup projects, and more than 80,000 Pakistanis were directly sent there. We are unaware of further details about the individual deployment of workers,” he told Arab News.

He said that the Qatari government had stopped paying a few companies, including Descon, a Pakistan-based multinational that had taken many laborers to Qatar’s capital Doha.

Laborers working at Khalifa International Stadium after its redevelopment ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. Image Credit: AFP

The news follows a recent investigation by NGO Amnesty International, which similarly exposed that Qatar Meta Coats (QMC), a company involved in constructing one of the tournament’s “crown jewel” stadiums, had left 100 migrant workers unpaid for up to eight months.

The QMC employees solely got paid recently following the Amnesty investigations and media reports despite the government admitting they first learned about the payments as early as June 2019.

Workers at the Lusail stadium site in Qatar on December 20, 2019. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

In 2018, controversial news surfaced about Mercury MENA, another Qatar-based company contracted to build Lusail City, in Doha. Amnesty reported that the company had failed to pay several workers due to “cash flow problems.” Year after year, further abuses and the same excuses prove that progress on workers’ rights is not being addressed enough by the Qatari government.

FIFA has also faced criticism for ignoring the issue and not doing anything to hold Qatar to account.

Out of the estimated 150,000 Pakistanis working in Qatar, 700 have claimed a delay in receiving salaries.

Migrant workers leave a worksite in Qatar’s capital Doha on November 19. EPA/LANDOV

But the coronavirus had a devastating impact on another 4,300 Pakistani employees in Qatar who registered for repatriation.

Even though Kashif said that the majority of the unpaid cases were resolved, more complaints were filed after the coronavirus outbreak.

“We also received more complaints related to payments after the coronavirus outbreak,” he said.
Pakistan is now working with the Qatari authorities and employers to resolve all pending issues, he told Arab News.

Photo: DPA

A Pakistani laborer Qadir Bakshi, who had been working on a World Cup infrastructure project for the past four years, had his contract terminated when he chased his company for four-months-worth of delayed salary payments.

At least 1,400 migrant workers have died during construction in the decade since Qatar won their World Cup bid. The International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC) predicts the total death toll would reach more than 4,000 by the time the World Cup has begun in 2022.

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