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SBD Global/October 4, 2013/Facilities

U.K. Government Warns British Construction Firms To Protect Workers Rights In Qatar

The British government has warned U.K. construction companies working on lucrative pre-World Cup contracts in Qatar "to obey regulations on workers' rights following the deaths of dozens of migrant workers on building sites in the Gulf state," according to Robert Booth of the London GUARDIAN. U.K. firms have secured contracts to oversee more than $20B worth of building projects in the runup to the '22 tournament, "but researchers investigating maltreatment of migrant workers have reported some are reluctant to challenge malpractice and instead prioritise pleasing their Qatari clients." Following a trade drive backed by the government, "British builders have forged a dominant position advising on construction projects in Qatar, which are expected to employ as many as 1.5 million migrant workers over the next eight years." Several firms "have pledged to use their influence to improve safety standards and living conditions." But an on-the-ground investigation of Qatar's building industry this summer "has concluded some are not doing enough." Former In'l Labour Organisation construction specialist Jill Wells, who is drafting a report on the problems for the non-governmental organisation Engineers Against Poverty, said that despite advances in the fair treatment of workers in the U.K., "British consultants appear to be wary of proposing improvements to their Qatari clients" (GUARDIAN, 10/3).

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