Qatar committed to improving worker welfare, says World Cup 2022 organiser

A general view shows the Al Bayt stadium, built for the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer championship, during a stadium tour in Al Khor, north of Doha, Qatar, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

DUBAI, June 23 (Reuters) - The head of Qatar's World Cup 2022 organising committee has said conditions for low paid migrant workers have improved but that more work was needed and the Gulf Arab state was committed to doing it.

Qatar has faced great international scrutiny over the treatment of blue collar workers ever since it won the rights in 2010 to host the first World Cup in the Middle East.

Qatar has, however, introduced several labour reforms since 2010, which it says have benefited workers including raising the minimum wage last year to $275 a month and removing obstacles to changing employers.

"The strong belief we have is that everybody living in Qatar or contributing to the development of Qatar is treated with dignity. Their health and safety is of the utmost concern to us," Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Secretary General Hassan Al Thawadi told the virtual Qatar Economic Forum.

"There is not a single nation in the world today that can claim they have the perfect labour system or the perfect worker welfare regime and we are no different. Progress needs to be done, more work needs to be done."

Qatar's commitment to improving worker welfare would continue beyond next year's tournament, he said.

In March, players from the national soccer teams of Germany, Netherlands and Norway wore shirts before World Cup qualifiers voicing concerns over human rights in Qatar after Britain's Guardian newspaper said it had calculated at least 6,500 migrant worker deaths in Qatar since it won the hosting rights.

Qatar had said the reported deaths were within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population of the workers concerned, and that the mortality rate had consistently declined since 2010 due to health and safety reforms.

The World Cup is expected to contribute around $20 billion to the economy with a significant portion benefiting the construction and tourism industries, Al Thawadi said.

Qatar has spent billions of dollars renovating and building stadiums, in addition to other major infrastructure projects over the past decade.

The tournament will be held from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18 next year.

Writing by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Ed Osmond

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