WEST HAM FANS CRY FOUL OVER QATAR ABUSES
Monday 22nd August 2016
Protesters descend on new stadium to highlight horror
WEST HAM’S first Premier League match at their newly acquired London Olympic Stadium was used yesterday by a trade union and football supporter-backed campaign to highlight the ongoing horror of Qatar’s World Cup preparation.
Thousands of migrant workers have been exploited building the infrastructure for the 2022 tournament in conditions that were likened to those in “tenement slums in Victorian London” by general union GMB last year.
Yesterday’s day of action marks the start of many by Playfair Qatar, the TUC’s campaign with the Football Supporters’ Federation to raise awareness of the exploitation and abuse of rights faced by workers in the Gulf state.
Campaign co-ordinator and TUC policy officer Stephen Russell told the Star: “This stadium was at the heart of the safest Olympics ever — no-one lost their lives.
“If these standards can be applied for the Olympics they can also happen for the World Cup.
“As a mega-sporting event it stands in stark contrast to the situation in Qatar where hundreds, if not thousands, of people are at risk building both the infrastructure and stadia.”
It has been well documented that some 1,200 migrant workers have lost their lives while preparing for the Qatar World Cup. However the Qatar Ministry of Health has estimated that there could be 7,000 deaths before a ball is kicked.
Treasurer of Southern and Eastern TUC Colin Bull questioned why Qatar has failed to match the good health and safety record of the Olympic stadium in London.
“There are two or three deaths a day in Qatar,” he told the Star. “I don’t see why they cannot adopt the same standards we have in this country.”
Jonathan Havard, a West Ham supporter and national secretary at maritime union Nautilus, declared that the Qatari authorities cannot be allowed to plough over workers rights unimpeded.
“Whatever faults West Ham might have, there is a unionised workforce here and health and safety is a priority,” he said.
Mr Russell highlighted that Fifa has the power to put pressure on the Qatari government to ensure that proper health and safety and work conditions are applied, though football’s world governing body has continually ignored calls from the ITUC, GMB and Amnesty International to strip Qatar of the tournament.
“It is making no effort to reform,” Mr Russell added. “Qatar continues with the Kafala system which binds people in jobs for five years, unable to quit and go to another employer or even just to leave and go back to their families.
“I am not sure what Fifa stand to gain from refusing to act. If Fifa doesn’t take action in Qatar, as the only remaining agency able to compel the Qataris — who clearly have no interest in reforming themselves — then they will have blood on their hands.”