Dozens of construction workers who had been contracted to do fit outs on Al Bidda Tower in Doha’s West Bay financial district are in dire straits because they have not been paid for months and can no longer afford to eat, Amnesty International has announced.
On the occasion of International Migrants’ Day, which coincides with Qatar’s National Day, the human rights group has called on the country to help the 80-some men, who hail from Nepal, China, Nigeria, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
According to Amnesty, locally based Lee Trading and Contracting (LTC) has not paid the men their monthly wages in nearly a year, and are collectively owed QR1.5 million ($411,000).
The workers had filed cases in the Labor Court to reclaim their wages, but their claims were stalled after being asked to pay $165 (QR600) each to pay for an expert report, a fee that the court refused to waive.
The rights group, which released a damning report on the working and living conditions of low-income expats in Qatar last month, added that under the labor law here, workers are exempted from paying such fees.
Struggling to eat
The constructions workers had been contracted to complete the interior of two floors of Al Bidda tower, which they finished in October. They were provided QR250 ($69) in food allowances until then, and now, without wages or the allowance, have been relying on handouts to eat.
Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s Secretary General, said in a statement:
“They have not had been paid for nearly a year and can’t even buy food to sustain themselves on a day-to-day basis. They also can’t afford to send money back home to their families or to pay off debts.
“The Qatari government must step in now and end this crisis. The men have told us they simply want to collect the unpaid wages they are owed and to leave the country. The Ministries of Labour and Interior must deliver that as soon as possible. Doing so will signal that the government really means what it says about protecting workers’ rights.”