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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Qatar

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Qatar, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
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 make up the majority of the workforce and are often exploited. The law provides for a single trade union system and trade union activities are heavily curtailed.


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. Furthermore, a Committees' permissible activities are regulated in the law, and the Minister of Labour may dissolve any Committee that engages in political activity, distributes materials that insult the state or the government, or accepts gifts without the Ministry's approval.

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. The right to strike is recognised, but it is very difficult to carry out a lawful strike. Three-fourths of the General Committee must approve of the strike, and the time and place for the strike must be approved by the Ministry of Labour. A lengthy dispute resolution procedure must also be exhausted before a lawful strike can be called. 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.


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 has been in power since 1995 when he deposed his father. He is also head of the armed forces and Minister for Defence. The 2005 Constitution provided for the creation of a parliament in which two thirds of the members must be elected, but as no elections have taken place as yet, this has not been implemented.

Migrant workers exploited: Migrant workers make up the majority of the workforce – 87% of the total population (the large percentage of migrants in the Gulf region). Only 25.8% of the migrant population are women. Migrants are often exploited because their employment contracts give broad powers to their employers. The latter often confiscate the migrant workers' passports and some refuse to pay their salaries on time. Women domestic workers are prime targets for violence and sexual attacks in particular.

Finger is pointed at Al-Jazeera: In June, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) asked Al-Jazeera to clarify the circumstances surrounding the resignation of five female journalists on 15 May. According to certain rumours, they left the station following harassment about their dress. The IFJ pointed that that if an independent trade union had existed within the company that this type of conflict could have been avoided but Al-Jazeera ignored the FIJ's offers of help to set up a mechanism that would give the employees a collective voice.

90 migrant workers expelled following a strike: In September, the Nepalese media reported that approximately 90 Nepalese migrant workers in the construction sector were arrested and subsequently deported from Qatar following their participation in a strike. Their company, Albadar, had refused to increase salaries by 10% in accordance with a previous agreement.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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