Landmark Group election breaks new ground for Joint Committees

Staff of Qatar’s Landmark Group went to the polls recently in the retail giant’s ever Joint Committee elections

Article | 16 September 2020
A staff member casts his vote at the Landmark Group Joint Committee election
On 26 August 2020 impromptu polling booths were set up in stores, changing rooms, offices and warehouses across Qatar, as staff of the Landmark Group, a major retail and hospitality business held elections to form its first ever worker-management Joint Committee.

ILO has worked closely with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) to introduce Joint Committees in Qatar. To date, committees have been formed in 20 companies and organizations, bringing together management and worker representatives to discuss workplace issues. A further 20 Committees are scheduled to be established by the end of the year.

Setting this latest election apart was the sheer diversity of the Landmark Group. With some 1,200 employees, working in over 65 retail stores and multiple locations, the formation of a single joint committee presented many challenges.

“The biggest challenge is that we have lots of stores and brands in different places,” explains Lavanya Nair, Landmark Group’s Employee Engagement Officer who is coordinating efforts with ILO and ADLSA to organize elections and provide training for the elected representatives.
“The loyalty of the staff is usually to the brand they work for. It’s challenging to convince them to vote for the right person who may work in a different store, and not just your friend who works with you,” she added.

On election day, voting took place in 12 different locations across the country.  At stake were 14 worker seats on the committee – one from each of the group’s main retail locations as well as the head office and warehouse.

“Holding this election has been a huge task and an uncharted path for us. However it has been received so well, with great participation and friendly competition,” said Debasish Sahu, Head of HR. “We could have done the polling online but felt that having physical ballot boxes would help make the event feel more connected to the workplace.”

Following a lively election campaign, action was brisk and excitement in the air as voting got underway at the Centrepoint Store in Doha Festival City.

“When we knew we would have the Joint Committee elections we were so excited. We thought is this really possible?” said Centrepoint Mall Manager Bhagawan Giri. “In my 17 years here in Qatar this is a first.”

In addition to Landmark Group employees, staff of contractors working with the group also had the chance to vote. Stefan, a contracted security guard expressed his appreciation for being included in the process.

The election was marked with a lively and creative campaign by the candidates
“Taking part in the voting makes me feel I am recognized by the company. As a subcontractor or someone brought in to work with them they feel I am important, I am recognized by them and that’s a pleasure,” he said.

The enthusiasm amongst the staff for the election was shared by management as Chief Operating Officer Clive Freeman explained.

“In Landmark, we promote a culture of empowerment and ownership. This election process will provide a voice to all of our colleagues, with representation from all parts of the business, ensuring that we are able to receive and act on ideas and suggestions enabling us to continually promote an inclusive working environment. It is vital, in today s business world, that all our team feel valued, respected and are able to influence their place of work.”

With Joint Committees continuing to be established across Qatar, new ground is being broken as organizations adapt the process to effectively fit their operations.  

“This election is a first with a Joint Committee being established in a large retail group spread out across Qatar. We hope this will serve as proof for other diverse business groups that Joint Committees can successfully be established however complex, or dispersed the structure of the business may be,” said ILO’s Marie-Jose Tayah.