After the report came out, QMC acknowledged payment delays due to financial difficulties. The organising body also said it had tried to remedy the abuse, including meeting the company’s management, blacklisting it from future contracts and informing the Ministry of Labour.
Meanwhile, FIFA said that it contacted the organising body, and is now working with Qatar to ensure that all outstanding salaries are paid without further delay. However, Amnesty says, it remains unclear why FIFA was unaware of abuses at Al Bayt Stadium until May 2020.
“If, over the past 10 years, FIFA had held its World Cup partners to account, and used its clout to push Qatar to fully reform its systems, we wouldn’t be hearing the same tales of workers’ suffering with only two and half years until kick-off,” said Amnesty’s Cockburn.
Amnesty International says it interviewed current and former employees of QMC and reviewed court records and contracts. Many employees received no salary at all for their work between September 2019 and March 2020. QMC repeatedly assured workers their money was coming but never fully delivered on their promises.
Some workers complained at Qatar’s labour tribunals in January, and QMC agreed to settle some claims but did not deliver. Other employees were told by the company they would be paid only if they agreed to end their contracts early and go home. But some workers were punished for complaining, the briefing said.
By the end of February 2020 QMC had pulled all remaining employees off the stadium and asked them to report to its factory, which manufactures aluminium and steel for use in the stadium. They continued to work there without pay until 22 March, when it closed due to the pandemic.
Like many migrant workers in the Gulf, QMC workers paid large fees to get jobs in Qatar, which is prohibited by Qatar’s Labour Law. Some of the workers paid up to $2,000 to recruitment agents in their home countries, taking out loans to cover the fees.
One worker, Kiran, told Amnesty he could not go home yet or pay his younger siblings’ school fees because he had incurred large debts coming to work for QMC in Qatar.
He said: “The future was not looking good for me before I came to Qatar… I am the only person taking care of my parents and siblings and I thought coming to Qatar would make things better for all of us…. But sadly, things didn’t work out as I expected.”