Supreme Committee of Legacy and Delivery Response
Email subject: Request for information regarding Qatar 2022 workers
Date: November 19, 2020
From: Najwa Al Thani, Workers’ Welfare, Stakeholder Relations Manager
Subject: Response on Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impact on migrant workers in Qatar
We thank you for your letter dated 5 November 2020, relating to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on migrant workers in Qatar. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) remains committed to promoting the best practices in workers’ welfare, and we welcome the opportunity for continued engagement in this regard.
Every worker under the purview of the SC is covered by our Workers’ Welfare Standards (WW Standards) enforced by the Workers’ Welfare Department (WWD), to ensure adherence to specific requirements for ethical recruitment, salaries and benefits, and accommodation. Through our Compliance and Audits mechanism, we continuously monitor companies’ compliance with the requirements of the SC WW Standards and Qatar Labour Law, and have several measures in place to identify and rectify any non-compliance.
COVID-19 presented an unexpected challenge for the SC. Our proactive strategy enabled us to manage the spread of COVID-19 on SC projects. The first positive test on our sites occurred six weeks after the first reported case in Qatar. A dedicated COVID-19 inspection task-force was established and continues to operate. High-risk workers identified by the SC (workers with pre-existing chronic conditions and those aged above 55) were promptly demobilised temporarily and relocated to a separate accommodation to ensure their health and well-being. They continue to receive their salaries, benefits and accommodation.
During the peak of the pandemic, the SC (with the guidance and approval of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) introduced a dedicated 1000-bed capacity isolation facility for treating workers infected with COVID-19. We engage twice a week with all workers that test positive to monitor their situation and ensure their well-being.
The SC also worked closely with specialists at MoPH and the Mental Health Service of Hamad Medical Corporation to develop a mental health awareness campaign designed for workers. The campaign focuses on key areas of concern for any person during such times, including general well-being, depression, anxiety, managing quarantine and social distancing, and the importance of physical activity. The content is translated to eight languages and was shared with over 18,000 SC workers via SMS. We also coordinated with 15 embassies to assist with distribution to workers. As part of this campaign the SC also contributed to the development of an app that to date has over 203,000 downloads.
The SC constantly engages with all our contractors, and handles every issue related to salaries on a case-by-case basis. Our audits show that less than five percent of the SC workforce have been affected by salary delays of a month or more since March 2020. We have proactively worked with contractors to rectify instances of non-payment through the options available to us, including:
- Payment suspension and direct payment to workers by main contractor – based on the SC’s intervention and direct instruction, some main contractors made direct payments to affected workers from the defaulting subcontractors. In the case of one contractor, this arrangement continued for at least six months, until the sub-contractor’s financial situation improved.
- Reporting to Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MoADLSA) – the SC has reported non-compliant contractors to MoADLSA. In the majority of instances, MoADLSA has taken punitive action that included issuance of warnings to defaulting contractors, placing an administrative block on their activities, and other stringent measures on a case-by-case basis.
- Watchlisting/blacklisting – where non-compliance persisted, we placed offending contractors on our watch-list / blacklist prohibiting mobilisation on any SC site until sufficient evidence of satisfactory rectification was demonstrated.
Through the aforementioned rectification measures, the SC was able to address and rectify all the salary delay issues within the same quarter.
With regard to the specific companies mentioned in your letter, we note the following:
- Pigeon Engineering - Through our audits and inspections mechanism, the SC identified the issue of non-payment by this contractor. The SC raised this issue with the contractor and all outstanding salaries were settled by early August 2020. There are currently no outstanding salaries for SC workers. During this process, the contractor also paid full salaries to non-SC workers who were not working during the onset of COVID-19 (i.e. March and April 2020).
- Rise and Shine – There is no record of Rise and Shine ever working on Al Bayt stadium. The SC has received several requests recently from the contractor to mobilise on various SC projects, but they were rejected due to critical non-compliances with Qatar’s Labour Law and our WW Standards.
- Al Jaber Engineering – Since the onset of COVID-19 in Qatar, Al Jaber were compliant and all salaries were paid on time for the first four months. However, the SC through its audits and grievance mechanisms, became aware of delays in the payment of salaries during the subsequent months which did not exceed five weeks at any given time. The SC intervened and resolved the issue. We continue to monitor the company closely. It’s important to clarify that the Al Jaber workers that were employed on the SC sites were not residing in the lockdown area.
We trust the information enclosed gives you the answers required and will be adequately and appropriately contextualised in your report. If you seek further clarification on any of the points raised within, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy