The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has intimated it will take a hard line with companies who continue to disregard the country’s labour law.
Following some negative reports in the press regarding worker deaths and the general treatment of workers on high profile megaprojects, the ministry may force companies to comply with the provisions of the Labour Law on making medical facilities available to workers in labour camps.
Under Labour Law No 14 of 2004, any company employing more than 500 workers must employ a doctor; those with 100 to 500 workers must have a full-time qualified nurse to take care of medical emergencies within the camp. For companies employing up to 25 workers, first aid materials and basic medicines must be readily available.
Currently these provisions are not enforced, although the Labour Law does ask all private companies to adhere to these stipulations.
The Ministry also asks companies to file details of all their workers, including name, salary, qualifications and job title. If this information is not supplied when requested, the company faces a fine and/or ban.
In September it was announced that a pioneering new electronic contract system for labourers would be introduced in March 2016. It would not be mandatory for companies to sign up to the scheme, however for those that do, it would enable their employees to access a government website and view their work contract.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has already blacklisted numerous companies for flouting labour laws. It is thought that approximately 4,000 companies have been held accountable, which represents around 5% of the number of companies registered in Qatar. It is not known how many companies have subsequently had their bans lifted.
Improving living conditions
The largest development project built in the country to house workers is now ready and being rented to companies.
Known as Barwa Al Baraha, the Labour City project was built by Barwa Real Estate Company and is located in Industrial Area. The complex can house 50,000 workers, being spread over 1 million sq m with 64 buildings each with four floors. There is also capacity to accommodate another 10,000 senior workers.
Labour City features a number of facilities, including a cinema, entertainment centres, an auditorium for community events, commercial complexes and restaurants. There are designated sports areas for football, cricket and volleyball and a large green space.
To ensure worker safety, there is a medical centre with specialist doctors and an emergency department, as well as a police station.
The project is being seen as a benchmark for modern worker accommodation both in Qatar and the region, with its modern facilities offering a higher standard of living for migrant workers.
The project was developed in two phases: The first phase consisted of truck and vehicle parking; the second phase was for Labour City. There are plans to include a huge complex to house at least 49 used car showrooms, with the showrooms on the ground floor, and two floors above them for administrative offices. m