Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August 2014, 14:37 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Qatar

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Qatar, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec5dc.html [accessed 21 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 1,400,000
Capital: Doha
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 105 – 111 – 182

Migrant workers are still in a difficult situation. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticised the refusal to allow journalists to form their own independent trade union. The law provides for a single trade union system, and trade union activities are heavily curtailed.

Trade union rights in law

Trade union rights are seriously restricted in law. The Labour Code allows for only one trade union: the General Union of Workers of Qatar, made up of General Committees for workers in different trades or industries. Each of the General Committees must have a minimum of 100 members. Government employees as well as non-Qatari nationals are not allowed to organise. Although trade unions are allowed to bargain collectively, the government controls the rules and procedures for bargaining, including restrictions on the content, scope, duration and interpretation of the agreements.

Furthermore, while the right to strike is recognised, it is coupled with so many restrictions that it is virtually impossible to carry out a lawful strike. The Labour Department of the Ministry of Civil Service must also rule on all industrial disputes before a strike can be called, which effectively neutralises the purpose of striking. Civil servants and domestic workers are not allowed to strike, and no worker in a public utility, health or security service can strike if it harms the public or causes damage to property. Workers in petroleum- and gas-related industries, seaports and all forms of transportation fall under this category.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: Qatar is one of the richest countries in the Gulf region thanks to its oil and gas reserves. All power is concentrated in the hands of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani who appoints cabinet ministers and promulgates new laws. The 2005 Constitution provided for the creation of a parliament in which two thirds of the members must be elected, but as there have been no elections yet, there is no parliament.

Qatari journalists prohibited from organising independent union: In May the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) refused to take part in events to celebrate press freedom organised by UNESCO and the government of Qatar. "The event is held in a country which supports an international media freedom centre, but refuses to allow local journalists to form their own independent union or association" the IFJ pointed out.

Migrant workers exploited: Migrant workers make up the majority of the workforce. They are often exploited because their employment contracts give broad powers to their employers. The latter often confiscate the passports of migrant workers, and some refuse to pay salaries on time. This was the case, for example, in the first half of the year for 39 Filipino and 31 Nepalese workers living in the Al Matar Al Qadeem labour camp. They had not been paid for five months, even after a labour tribunal had urged the company to pay them.

Domestic workers, who are almost all migrants, are prime targets for violence, particularly sexual attacks. Their conditions of employment often mean they cannot leave the employers' home. According to local media, the government is putting more measures in place to ensure respect for migrant workers' rights, and some embassies have set a minimum wage for their country nationals.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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