UN company seeks FIFA deal for World Cup labour rights function

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After fierce criticism of the Qatar World Cup, the top of the UN labour company on Sunday pressed FIFA’s president for a larger function scrutinizing future World Cup hosts.

International Labour Organisation director normal Gilbert Houngbo advised AFP earlier than assembly with Gianni Infantino that Qatar has been a sufferer of “double standards” and has made vital progress however extra must be performed for its migrant labourers.

The ILO is searching for a task finishing up “due diligence” on future candidate international locations, Houngbo mentioned in an interview.

FIFA has confronted elevated stress after years of criticism of labour rights in Qatar, starting from controversy over deaths on mega development initiatives to unpaid salaries and dealing within the Gulf state’s fierce summer season warmth.

Houngbo mentioned he believes “FIFA is very determined to make sure that for future World Cups, or the next attribution, the social question, the question of respect of worker standards, are critical questions in the decision”.

The former Togo prime minister mentioned respect for human rights needed to embody “rights linked to work and especially health and safety at work.”

FIFA, which already works with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, mentioned after the assembly that talks on a memorandum of understanding with the ILO weren’t but full.

“We have been engaging with the ILO for a number of years and we want to make sure our fruitful cooperation will continue in the future,” Infantino mentioned in an announcement.

Houngbo mentioned he was “reasonably optimistic” of reaching settlement with FIFA on staff’ rights.

“It cannot be the only element in taking a decision but the ILO would be available to carry out a kind of due diligence of all the candidate countries” for FIFA.

He mentioned the identical rules ought to apply “for the Olympic Games and other sports.”

The 2026 World Cup will likely be held within the United States, Canada and Mexico. “In theory, we have no problem. But that does not prevent us from remaining vigilant,” mentioned Houngbo.

– Permanent base –

The ILO has had a short lived workplace in Doha since 2018 advising the Qatar authorities on its reforms and monitoring circumstances for migrant staff who make up nearly 90 % of the two.9 million inhabitants.

Houngbo has additionally held talks with Qatar on making the workplace a everlasting base, the primary within the Gulf area the place nearly all international locations face criticism of labour rights.

The ILO chief mentioned most of the assaults on Qatar had proven “double standards”.

“I have heard harsh criticism of Qatar, when Qatar has done more in this field than other countries. But nothing is said about the other countries.”

Houngbo mentioned Qatar deserved reward for dismantling its punitive ‘Kafala’ labour system — which prevented staff from altering jobs or leaving the nation with out an employer’s permission — introducing a minimal wage and proscribing hours that may be labored in warmth since worldwide unions made an official grievance to the ILO in 2014.

The authorities, which has expressed dismay at what it has referred to as “racist” assaults, says it has spent greater than $350 million in compensation for stolen and unpaid wages since 2018.

“This shows the engagement of the government and the size of the problem,” mentioned the ILO chief.

A “small number” of firms “continue to have illegal practices and that is where we have to continue to work.”

The ILO can be urgent Qatar to enhance its knowledge gathering to finish bitter debates over the variety of lifeless in labour accidents.

The authorities has mentioned there have been 414 deaths in accidents from 2014 to 2020. Rights teams say “thousands” have died.

“I think the public needs to know the truth and sometimes the sincere truth is that there is no credible information,” mentioned Houngbo.

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