David Cameron welcomes the Emir of Qatar to Downing Street. Photo: Arron Hoare / Crown copyright
Emir of Qatar should be in no doubt on workers’ rights
This week the Emir of Qatar has been visiting London. When we got wind of the visit, which we knew would include a meeting with David Cameron in No 10, we wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to raise the issue of workers’ rights, and in particular those of the migrant construction workers dying building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
This is an issue where we’ve found a huge amount of support. In some cases, that’s not surprising. The football fans who are sending in their Playfair Qatar selfies are an unsurprising ally – it is the workers’ game after all – and the Daily Mirror was as direct as you’d expect (their chief political correspondent has, after all, visited the appalling labour camps.) But yesterday we also got backing from the Daily Telegraph’s chief sports writer, Paul Hayward, who wrote in his column (you need to scroll down from the Messi/Ronaldo piece):
“The TUC say Qatar’s World Cup venues will be “smeared with the blood” of the dead. This is highly emotive language – and justifiably so. Football’s shame over 2022 just grows and grows.”
We may even have touched the heart of the Prime Minister. In early versions of the PA news copy yesterday, it was reported that the talks would focus on the fight against ISIL, but with World Cup construction concerns not ruled out. By lunchtime, the TUC’s letter was added to the piece, and then a third page was added where the PM’s spokesman confirmed that conditions facing construction workers would be discussed. We know other politicians also raised the issue with the Emir.
This is an issue that won’t go away: the Daily Telegraph’s news pages also reported that the issue had been raised in the House of Lords by former TUC General Secretary John Monks, and that the UK government was offering Qatar advice on how to improve construction safety on World Cup sites to the level of the zero-deaths London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games. The best advice would be to legalise and then work with the unions – union involvement was crucial to the good health and safety record of London 2012.
To find out more about Playfair Qatar, and help us spread the message by joining our growing gallery of fans’ photos, visit www.playfairqatar.org.uk