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Tue November 24 2020

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GMB seeks meeting with 13 UK contractors over Qatar safety

25 Oct 13 Qatar’s construction safety record is so bad that 4,000 workers will be killed before a ball is kicked at the World Cup in nine years’ time unless action is taken, says GMB.

The union has requested a meeting with 13 UK-based contractors working there. GMB international officer Bert Schouwenburg has written to the chief executives of companies that have contracts to build stadiums and other infrastructure seeking a meeting over the exploitation of migrant workers in the Gulf state. Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke, Interserve, Kier Group, Vinci, Galliford Try (Qatar), ISG Middle East, Amey, Mace, Bouygues UK, BAM and Costain have all been sent letters. The union had announced earlier this month that it intended getting involved.

The letter says: “In the world’s richest country per head of population, migrants are paid as little as £5 per day for 15 hours of work in ferocious heat. On-site injuries and fatalities are commonplace and it has been estimated that, at the current level of accidents, some 4,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in 9 years’ time.

“GMB is an affiliate of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and is right behind their campaign to prevent the World Cup taking place in Qatar unless there is a dramatic improvement in workers’ rights.

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“We believe that UK companies have a particular responsibility to ensure that their Qatar-based employees, regardless of their nationality, and their sub-contractors’ employees enjoy terms and conditions within globally accepted standards of ‘decent work’ as laid down by organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

“Consequently, I would suggest that we organise a meeting at your earliest convenience to discuss a way forward.

The ITUC are contemplating a visit to Qatar in early December. GMB plan to be part of that. This may provide us with a suitable opportunity but any alternative suggestions from your side would be welcome too.”

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