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331st ILO Governing Body

ILO Governing Body welcomes Qatar’s commitment to bolster migrant worker rights

At its 331st Session, the ILO’s Governing Body recognized progress made by Qatar, and welcomed its commitment to ensuring fundamental principles and rights at work for all workers and the resulting breakthrough to end the “kafala” sponsorship system.

Press release | 08 November 2017
GENEVA (ILO News) – The ILO Governing Body session on the complaint concerning non-observance by Qatar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), and the Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81), concluded on Wednesday (8 November) with a decision to close the complaint, while endorsing the launch of a comprehensive 3-year ILO technical cooperation programme in Qatar. 

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder signed a partnership agreement with HE Minister of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs of Qatar, Dr. Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi for a three-year technical cooperation project.
This complaint, submitted to the International Labour Conference in 2014 concerned the failure of the Government of Qatar to maintain a legal framework sufficient to protect the rights of the migrant workers consistent with international law and to enforce the legal protections that existed.  It has since been discussed at numerous sessions of the Governing Body.

The technical cooperation programme was developed on the basis of a high-level ILO visit to Qatar in March 2016. Under this programme, the ILO and the Government of Qatar will work together to strengthen national regulations and practices, and the capacities of the Government, employers and workers to realize fundamental principles and rights at work, in line with international labour standards.

The cooperation aims to improve employment conditions and recruitment practices for migrant workers, ensure timely payment of wages, strengthen labour inspection and occupational safety and health standards, enhance protection from forced labour, and give workers a voice in labour-related matters.

The ILO welcomes the commitment of Qatar to engage in substantive cooperation with the Organization for the promotion and protection of workers’ rights.”

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General
In addition, it will support the implementation of numerous measures adopted by the Government of Qatar to replace the kafala system with a contractual employment relation and to address passport confiscation, contract substitution, as well as restrictions on the ability of migrant workers to change employers and exit the country.

The framework of cooperation aims to institute change that will protect workers’ rights for the longer term, in line with Qatar’s National Development Strategy 2017-2022. 

“The ILO welcomes the commitment of Qatar to engage in substantive cooperation with the Organization for the promotion and protection of workers’ rights, and looks forward to the successful implementation of the cooperation programme over the next three years,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Luc Cortebeeck, Chairperson of the Governing Body said “the transformation of this complaint into a real commitment by the Government of Qatar to make positive change on the ground for all workers is a very encouraging development. We celebrate this moment for Qatar and its two million migrant workers.”

The strategic objectives of the cooperation over the period 2018-2020, are set out in the report submitted to the current session of  the ILO Governing Body.