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Qatar Set to Increase Minimum Wage for Workers by End of 2018

Workers at the construction site of the new Qatar National Museum in Doha, November 18, 2015.

The minimum wage for migrant workers could be hiked in Qatar by the end of 2018, unions said on April 30. This will be the first time the monthly wages will be altered since the move was introduced by Qatar in November 2017, AFP reported.

“By the end of the year we expect a new minimum wage to be set, that’s good news,” Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said, the news agency reported. She made the statement following a meeting with Qatar’s Labor Minister, Issa al-Jufali al-Nuaimi, as well as other government officials in Doha over the last two days.

Although a figure was not mentioned, Burrow said that the new wage would be computed after evaluating a “basket of goods,” according to the report.

Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is seeking to pull through labor reforms.

Regarding the current minimum wage — which is 750 Riyals a month — Burrow said: “We believe it is not good enough due to the cost of living.” Along with the salary, laborers get free accommodation, food as well as healthcare plans, which are all taken care of by the employers.

While introducing the minimum wages last year, Nuaimi had said that it could be increased after a review, the report said. “We will not approve any employment contract if the salary is below 750 Riyals per month. All contracts must now be approved by the ministry of labor,” he had added.

Nuaimi had also said that further improvements will be made towards labor reforms and it is a long-term commitment, since migrant workers were a “part and parcel” of Qatar.

An International Labour Organization (ILO) office was also opened in Doha on April 29 by Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA), the Gulf Times reported.

“Qatar welcomes the opening of the ILO office in Doha. This is another step towards ensuring Qatar has a labour system that reflects global best practice. The government of Qatar now has another partner to promote and protect the rights of our guest workers,” Nuaimi said while leading the opening of the office.

The ILO’s Doha Office is the first in the Gulf region and will help in facilitating co-operation between the organization and the Qatar government. The technical agreement concentrates on five areas, including  improvement in wages, work and occupational health, and safety inspections.

In 2017, some major changes were announced by Qatar after a three-year program of technical cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) was signed. The introduction of minimum wages was a part of these changes. The other proposed changes include putting an end to the “kafala” system, which stops workers from switching jobs and exiting Qatar without the employer’s permission.

Qatar had earlier announced that it would reimburse the recruitment fee of bringing in 30,000 migrant workers for the construction of the FIFA 2022 World Cup facilities. The move was welcomed by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Qatar has been criticized for making laborers work in difficult conditions ever since it was chosen to host the global football event in 2022. In May 2017, an Indian carpenter died of a heart attack while he was working at the Qatar World Cup stadium. The tournament organizers, however, said that his death was not due to the working conditions.