Migrant workers, mainly from Asia, building the first stadium for Qatar’s 2022 World Cuphave been earning as little as 45p an hour, the Guardian newspaper revealed. The pay rate appears to be in breach of the tournament organisers’ own worker welfare rules and comes despite the Gulf kingdom spending £134bn on infrastructure ahead of the competition.
More than 100 workers from some of the world’s poorest countries are labouring in ferocious desert heat on the 40,000-seat al-Wakrah stadium, which has been designed by the British architect Zaha Hadid and is due to host a quarter-final.
The problems for the World Cup workers come after the Guardian revealed on Tuesday that migrant labourers who fitted out luxury offices used by Qatar’s World Cup organising committee have not been paid for up to a year and are now living in squalor.
There has been an international outcry over the deaths of hundreds of migrant builders in Qatar in construction accidents and traffic collisions, and from suicides and heart failure. Low pay, late pay and even no pay are now an increasing concern.
Pay slips show they are toiling up to 30 days a month for as little as £4.90 a day. The rates are among the lowest the Guardian found during a week-long investigation into conditions for migrant labourers across Qatar’s construction industry, and come despite pledges by the tournament’s organisers to make workers’ rights “our top priority”.
Hadid, whose practice is likely to earn a multimillion-pound fee on the project, said in a joint statement with fellow design firm Aecom that they were “working closely with our clients to ensure that any outstanding issues are resolved”.
The pay rates were described as “poverty wages” by the Labour MP Jim Sheridan, a member of the Commons culture committee investigating the World Cup bid. “This is not what football, the people’s game, is all about. It is about fairness and that includes for the workers,” he said. “How can anybody enjoy watching the 2022 World Cup knowing the people who built the stadiums had to endure these conditions? Qatar should put on hold the construction until we can get these issues sorted out.”
Stadium workers also told the Guardian their passports were being held by their manager, in apparent breach of the World Cup organisers’ own worker welfare standards, which state: “The contractor shall ensure that all workers have personal possession of their passports and other personal documents.”
Withholding passports was identified by the Qatar government’s lawyers, DLA Piper, as an abuse of the country’s migrant labour sponsorship system that can contribute to conditions of forced labour.
Pay slips for workers on al-Wakrah stadium suggest the contractor is breaching rules on overtime pay and working hours limits set by Qatar’s World Cup organising committee. One labourer was hired on a basic monthly salary of £136 and worked 64 hours of overtime in April. He was paid just £29 for the overtime, making the overtime rate 45p an hour. His basic salary, if he worked the maximum 48-hour week allowed, was 64p per hour.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s worker welfare standards state overtime should be paid at basic wage plus 25% and that the maximum working week should be 60 hours. If the labourer worked on average 16 hours overtime a week as the documents suggest, after a maximum 48 hour week, then he would have worked longer than the allowable maximum of 60 hours.
Another labourer’s pay slip shows he worked every day in April, including 38 hours overtime, for a total salary of £33.50 per week, or £4.80 a day.
Qatar is spending about £2.4bn building eight stadiums for the World Cup.