Show Qatar that World Cup death & exploitation are unnecessary
On 21 August, West Ham United will play their first Premiership home game at the former London 2012 Olympic Stadium – their new venue – against Bournemouth. We’ll be there with Playfair Qatar campaigners and Hammers fans to make a simple point. The stadium was originally built for the Olympics with no fatalities, and under an agreement between unions and the event organisers which delivered not just safety, but fair wages, learning, and respect. That’s a lesson that the organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should learn before more slave workers die in the soaring heat of another Gulf summer.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says that if the Qatari authorities don’t change course, over 7,000 workers could die preparing Qatar to host the World Cup. They should scrap the slave-like ‘kafala’ system which gives employers power over their workers’ movements, effectively trapping them in their jobs, and in Qatar – some have even been prevented from returning home for family funerals. And some of the building workers only leave Qatar in their coffins. But Qatar must do more than scrap kafala, they must give migrant construction workers the right to join a union.
Some people say that “of course we can build things like Olympic facilities safely in the UK, but Qatar is different.” Sadly, not so much, although the scale of Qatar’s disrespect for human life is certainly breathtaking. Last year, while the Olympic Stadium was being converted into the Hammers’ new home, a construction worker did indeed die in a fall – but the union agreement that governed its construction for London 2012 was no longer in place. Unions save lives in UK construction projects: they would do the same on Qatar’s.
Indeed, some brave people are already organising in the squalid camps where Qatar’s construction workers are forced to live. The union organisers at the London Olympics had purpose built facilities, a unionlearn centre, freedom to talk to their members and potential members. That’s what we want to see in Qatar too, and that’s why we’ll be at West Ham United’s ground on Saturday 21 August.
If you’re a West Ham fan (or a Bournemouth visitor!) and want to join us in spreading the message about how Qatar’s World Cup organisers and FIFA should play fair, or if you know a fan who could help, get in touch through the Playfair Facebook page. We want people to:
- come before the game to take part in the action;
- send us photos or contact us to arrange taking one – especially in your team colours; and
- give us a statement to use either in praise of the Olympic Stadium’s record or criticising Qatar’s.
We will use the images and the messages to promote the event and to make campaign leaflets for the day. And to tell Qatar to play fair and stop slavery in the 2022 World Cup preparations.