By Arab News
Hundreds of migrant workers in Qatar took part in a strike this week to protest against poor working conditions, unpaid and delayed wages, and threats that wages will be reduced, Human Rights Watch reported.
The “kafala” sponsorship labor system under which migrant workers’ legal status in Qatar – including their entry, residence, transfer, and exit – depends on a single employer-sponsor. It is widely considered exploitative and gives employers excessive power over their employees.
“The workers in Qatar are going on strike in a country that bans them from striking or joining unions, and against the backdrop of a labor system that leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Abusive labor practices that lead workers to take such a risk will continue until the Qatari government makes good on its promise to repeal the kafala system.”
The “kafala” system can leave migrant workers vulnerable to forced labor by trapping them in employment situations in which their rights to fair wages, overtime pay, adequate housing, freedom of movement, and access to justice are at risk.