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.
France to invest €1.8bn in Egypt’s infrastructure
France will invest a total of €1.8bn into Egypt’s infrastructure focusing specifically on upgrading the Cairo Metro, building a railway to Sudan, and developing water and energy schemes. Officials have called the investment a “major boost to bilateral cooperation”.
The Cairo Metro
Included in the financing is a concessional government loan of around €800mn to upgrade Line 1 of the Cairo Metro, introduced in the 1980s. The financing will pay for 55 trainsets for the line and is provided by the French engineering company, Alstom.
Line 6 is also due to be upgraded using further state-guaranteed loans worth up to €2bn. Bruno Le Maire said that this would be negotiated over the next six months. France and Egypt have worked in close cooperation ever since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite differences over human rights and strong criticism of Egypt by rights activists and some foreign states.
Nine more projects over the next half a decade
A further €1bn from France’s development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aims to cover a range of other projects over the next half a decade.
These projects include a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan, as well as several projects in the renewable energy and water purification industries. Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, said Egypt was a “strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans,” he said.
According to Le Maire, the AFD will also €150mn to support the construction of a universal health insurance programme. French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system.
Talking about the relationship between France And Egypt, Le Maire concluded: “France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans”.