Qatar has “best labour laws in Gulf” according to union body
Changes in labour laws in Qatar have enabled the nation to have the best labour laws in the Gulf, according to a campaigning union organisation.
Recent, labour laws in Qatar have been changed in favour of workers’ rights in the nation. An unfavourable sponsored-labour system known as “kafala” has been phased out in the Gulf state which has unlocked new laws for workers.
The new laws have a focus on migrant workers, enabling them to leave their jobs without first getting permission from employers.
Furthermore, the first minimum wage has been introduced in the Gulf states. This has been described by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as a “historic milestone”.
Thanks to the introduction of the minimum wage, approximately one-fifth of labour workers will receive an extra 1000 Qatar riyals a month, which equated to $274. In addition, an extra 800 riyals ($219.20) will be given to workers to cover food and accommodation costs.
A short while before the new laws came into effect, campaigners Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report explaining the exploitation of migrant workers.
The move has been welcomed by many. One of these is is Stephen Cockburn from Amnesty International, who said: “We welcome the enactment of these laws, and now call on the Qatari authorities to ensure they are swiftly and properly implemented”.
ITUC’s General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said: “It’s really good news and does set up workers with real protection. The culmination around a series of legal changes happened with the abolition of non-objection certificates, which means workers in a normalised industrial context can change jobs.
“The second reform is the minimum wage. This is really good because one of the first findings for us was to find there was basically a race-based system of wages.
“So if you were a Nepali you were paid in the main much less than if you were an Indian worker, and so in. Some of it was aligned to skills but not defined. And there was no non-discriminatory wage base, now there is.
“The minimum wage is set at a good rate in the current environment and pretty much what we asked for. The accommodation standards are vastly different in that country now to what they were when we started. If you look at the transition into better accommodation, it’s impressive in the time frame.”
The move labour reforms in the state apply for the construction industry, in addition to domestic and agricultural workers.
International Code Council focuses on energy efficiency
The International Code Council has released a new framework to assist governments and building industry stakeholders in meeting energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals.
The Code Council Board of Directors, which consists of 18 government code officials who were elected by their peers, adopted the framework, Leading the Way to Energy Efficiency: A Path Forward on Energy and Sustainability to Confront a Changing Climate.
This framework includes using the Code Council’s American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved standards process to update the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
Future editions of the IECC will build on prior successes including an increase of efficiency requirements by about 40%, or an average of 8% a cycle from 2006 to 2021, allowing the IECC to remain a strong avenue for communities to reach their energy efficiency and sustainability goals globally.
With the base 2021 IECC efficiency requirements just 10% away from net zero for residential buildings, under the new framework future editions of the IECC will increase base efficiency using a balancing test proposed in bipartisan legislation that has cleared the US House and Senate and has been supported by energy efficiency advocates and the building industry.
The IECC will be developed under a revised scope and be part of a portfolio of greenhouse gas reduction solutions that could address electric vehicles, electrification and decarbonization, integration of renewable energy and energy storage, existing buildings performance standards and more.
The Code Council’s new framework will also provide optional requirements aimed at achieving net zero energy buildings presently and by 2030. Using a tiered approach, the framework offers adopting jurisdictions a menu of options, from a set of minimum requirements to pathways to net zero energy and additional greenhouse gas reduction policies.
The Code Council has also announced the establishment of an Energy and Carbon Advisory Council which will consist of governmental and industry leaders to inform the Code Council’s efforts.
The Energy and Carbon Advisory Council will advise on which additional greenhouse gas reduction policies the IECC should integrate, the pace that the IECC’s baseline efficiency requirements should advance, plus needs and gaps that the Code Council should work to address. The Code Council will begin outreach to fill the Energy and Carbon Advisory Council in March.
Focus on climate and energy efficiency globally
The Use of Climate Data and Assessment of Extreme Weather Event Risks in Building Codes Around the World was published last month.
Climate data is frequently only updated on a 10-year cycle on average, so as weather becomes more severe from year to year, the underlying data simply does not accurately reflect the risk to the building of these extreme weather-related events. International Codes are updated on a three-year cycle.
Climate change, coupled with net zero emission targets, is focusing minds to act faster.
From the end of this year, all new buildings in Singapore will face higher minimum energy performance requirements, according to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). It will raise the minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings and existing buildings that undergo major retrofit, to be 50% and 40% more energy efficient respectively, compared with 2005 levels. The city state aims to 'green' 80% of buildings by 2030.
The Net Zero Home standard developed by CCG (Scotland) is intended to deliver a standard of specification that reduces greenhouse gas emissions arising from regulated operational energy use to a rate less than or equal to 0kg C02/m2/year.
A new construction products national regulator is imminent in the UK, in a bid to bolster standards following the Grenfell inquiry.