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Reports

“If we complain, we are fired”

Discrimination and Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers on FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Stadium Sites

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“We work like robots”

Discrimination and Exploitation of Migrant Workers in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Hotels

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EXPOsed

Discrimination and forced labour practices on Expo 2020 Dubai

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The Cost of Contagion

The human rights impacts of COVID-19 on migrant workers in the Gulf

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REPORT: ‘We Work Like Robots’ details workers’ stories of wage theft, discrimination, dangerous conditions and gender-based violence and harassment at 32 FIFA partner hotels employing an estimated 10,000 workers. 

A new report from Equidem and Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) reveals significant labour and human rights violations they found at most of the hotels that employ an estimated 9,000-10,000 workers who will host World Cup teams, spectators and corporate sponsors later this year.

Field  investigators - themselves migrant workers – interviewed 80 workers over two years. Women and men from Africa and Asia working at World Cup hotels describe—in their own words—the sexual harassment, nationality- and gender-based discrimination, wage theft, health and safety risks, sudden loss of employment, and illegal recruitment charges they faced in their work. 

The report is based on research conducted from February 2020 to July 2022 and documents significant labour and human rights violations in 13 out of 17 of FIFA’s partner hotel groups. These international brands employ thousands of migrant workers from countries including Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Uganda.

Migrant workers are at significant risk of discrimination and exploitation because of the extreme power imbalances between migrant workers and employers in Qatar. The nationality-based hierarchies in Qatar are entrenched by policies that deny migrant workers paths to long-term residency or permanent citizenship. In this context, migrant workers require forums for collective action to safeguard their rights and promote their interests. 

“Despite an upsurge in rights-protection initiatives by FIFA and Qatar over the last two years, workers across most World Cup hotels have reported a troubling pattern of abuse and fears of reprisal for speaking out. Our research indicates that thousands of migrant workers at World Cup hotels are owed compensation for illegal recruitment charges, unpaid wages and overtime, and other harms suffered in Qatar,” said Mustafa Qadri, CEO of Equidem. “With less than four months until kick-off, the Qatar World Cup is facing an exploitation crisis that neither FIFA, Qatar, nor their hotel partners can hide behind audits and expert partnerships.”

“A top-down, heavily state-controlled labour reform process is inhibiting efforts to improve respect for migrant worker rights at Qatar World Cup hotels, despite the critical help of international trade union bodies, UN agencies and other experts,” Qadri said. “Qatar must respect its international obligations to respect freedom of association rights so that migrant workers have the space to safely voice concerns about their treatment.” 

Over 800 workers were contacted in an attempt to understand their experience but only 80 replied, which suggests the exploitation and abuse is widely underreported. 

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New report reveals signs of forced labor at the World's Fair in Dubai

Danwatch DK, a leading Danish media outlet features Equidem's report "EXPOsed:
Discrimination and forced labour practices on Expo 2020 Dubai" documenting rampant discrimination and forced labour practices at the world fair in Dubai, UAE.

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Our Focus

News

Opinion: Debt bondage, forced labour and discrimination: How migrant workers, including many Nepalis, are suffering in Dubai

Equidem Nepal's Deepika Thapaliya writes for Nepal Live Today underlining labour rights violations that migrant workers faced at EXPO 2020 Dubai.

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News

A death a day: Nepali workers in Saudi Arabia

Rameshwar Nepal, South Asia Director of Equidem Nepal evaluates the effectiveness of pre-departure orientation training programmes aimed at protecting migrant workers to minimise deaths, injuries, and illness.

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News

Opinion: Expo’s bright lights cannot hide Dubai’s dark side of discrimination and forced labour

Equidem's Namrata Raju writes for Thompson Reuters Foundation stressing the need for the United Arab Emirates to address the plight of low-paid migrant workers.

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News

Opinion: Nepal-Qatar Joint Committee meeting: An opportunity to address challenges faced by Nepali workers

Equidem Nepal's Deepika Thapaliya writes for Nepal Live Today highlighting issues that Qatar needs to address to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Nepali workers in the region.

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News

Crying out for Justice: Wage Theft Against Migrant Workers During COVID 19

Thompson Reuters highlights Migrant Forum in Asia's report highlighting cases of wage theft against migrant workers during COVID-19.

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News

Checked Out: Migrant Worker Abuse in Qatar’s World Cup Luxury Hotels

Worker rights in the hospitality sector is one of Equidem’s high priority focus areas. In the first half of 2021, Equidem interviewed migrant workers in Qatar’s hospitality sector for the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) report “Checked Out: Migrant Worker Abuse in Qatar’s World Cup Luxury Hotels.” Interviews were conducted between April and June 2021 with workers at hotels in Qatar who originated from countries in East Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia. The men and women interviewed were employed by enterprises of major target hospitality brands and by their sub-contractors and suppliers.

Following this, Equidem also helped the BHRRC team with data management and analysis of the findings and testimonies from workers for the report. Equidem has a long association with the BHRRC, including past research and advocacy collaboration regarding migrant worker rights in the Gulf countries.

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Video & Podcasts

Video
Equidem - GLJ-ILRF Report Launch "We work like robots"
Video
"There is shelling, aircraft in the skies." Pakistani students plead to be rescued from Ukraine war.
Video
"No food, heavy shelling" Indian students share their experiences amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict
Video
Equidem report Launch: "EXPOsed: Discrimination and forced labour practices at Expo 2020 Dubai"
Video
Equidem's Namrata Raju speaks about the impact of COVID-19 on migrant workers’ rights in the Middle East
Podcast
What is causing human trafficking and how do we stop it? Interview in 'Labour of Loss' Podcast series
Podcast
Winrock International’s Podcast Episode 5: Disposable People
Video
Launch of new Equidem, the cost of contagion: the human rights impacts of COVID-19 on migrant workers in the Gulf region