Labour reforms of Qatar has reassured India that it will improve the conditions of more than half a million Indian migrants, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised his concerns of abuses during a weekend visit to the Gulf state.Qatar is the single largest group of migrants in the country of 2 million , housing around 630,000 Indian nationals.
There are cases of Qatar abusive labour laws and forcing migrants to work under poor safety conditions that Rights groups have accused. Unions and labour protests are banned, and authorities penalise dissent with jail or deportation.Many migrants work in low paid construction jobs, building stadiums and other infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
Modi met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on Sunday and discussed the plight of Indian migrants, as reported by a joint government statement.
The statement issued by the prime minister’s office reports that “The Qatari side briefed the Indian side on the reform in labour laws which would protect the interest of skilled and unskilled labour in Qatar.”
Modi was also took this occasion to thank the Qatari leadership for “hosting the Indian community and for ensuring their continued welfare and safety.”
The bilateral trade between India and Qatar in 2014/15 exceeds $15 billion, according to the Indian government. Qatar proves to be an important partner for India, and is also one of India’s main sources of crude oil.
Modi addressed a gathering of Indian labourers in Doha during a two-day visit to the Gulf nation, and assured them he would present their concerns to Qatari authorities.
Modi told them on Saturday that “He is aware of the issues you are facing. I will talk about it when I meet the authorities,” “If you have some issues on changing some laws and regulations, I can assure you that I will work with you all to bring about these changes.”, he added.
Modi’s comments was surely a relief in this growing scrutiny of Qatar over the group of migrants from countries such as Nepal, India and Bangladesh employed to build infrastructure as Qatar gets itself ready to host the world’s largest sporting event.
Amnesty International in March reported that migrants faced abuses that in some cases amounted to forced labour. There were cases where workers were reported with squalid living conditions, having their salaries withheld for months and their passports confiscated by employers.
The migration system, Qatar’s kafala sponsorship – under which migrant workers cannot change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s permission – is at the heart of threats to make people work, Amnesty said.
Qatar is making progress towards ending forced labour and improving migrant worker conditions, but added the real test will be whether it enforces new legislation from December reports the International Labour Organization.
The new Qatari law abolishes the kafala sponsorship system and removes all curbs on worker movements. Migrants will no longer be forced to continue a job if there is abuse or exploitation, but domestic workers are excluded from this law.
Modi also expressed his positive believe towards Qatar that Qatar would respond positively to challenges faced by the Indian community in the country.
Modi told the Indian labourers that “he have been given a long list of all the problems that you face. He have studied it in detail and will address them over the next two days,”
“Despite these issues, the people here are very fond of Indians, they trust Indians, and I am sure that when we raise these concerns, they will respond positively”, he added.