From the very beginning, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has understood the importance of workers having a voice. It is why our Workers' Welfare team regularly visits and interacts with our workers. It is why we formed the workers' welfare forum as a mechanism for raising concerns directly to employers via elected representatives. It is why we introduced a dedicated grievance hotline to deal with issues that are not resolved elsewhere. Finally, it is why we work with trade unions and external monitors, to catch any issues that might not reach us directly.
'I feel privileged to represent my fellow workers. This is an opportunity to improve as a team leader and encourage my colleagues to improve communication around issues that really matter.'
Mukesh Giri, Challenger Trading and Contracting elected representative, Al Janoub Stadium.
Communication is key to ensuring workers have a positive work experience in Qatar.
Workers' welfare forums
In line with our standards, we have mandated that every contractor or sub-contractor commits, prior to tendering, to the establishment of workers' welfare forums for each of their accommodation sites. This commitment includes the appointment of project welfare officers on all stadium sites and welfare officers at workers' accommodation sites.
By April 2019, 112 workers' welfare forums were in operation, representing just over 21,100 workers.
The workers' welfare forums provide a safe environment in which to raise a wide range of issues, including accommodation, food, transport and health & safety. These forums include worker representatives for each nationality present at the accommodation site, as well as representatives of those workers' contractor or contractors.
Towards the end of 2017, the workers for all of our stadiums began the process of voting for their new representatives. A selection of hopeful candidates put their names forward for the honour of a place on the forum. Whether emboldened by previous experiences or inspired by their colleagues standing for election, workers on all of our projects participated in this democratic process, ensuring that they are heard.
Programme welfare forum
When matters are not resolved by our workers' welfare forums, they are escalated to the programme welfare forum. It is also where matters of particular concern relating to existing or potential employee relations issues can be discussed. In addition, this forum offers and identifies possible solutions and strategies on unresolved matters relating to non-compliance with our Workers' Welfare Standards, either on construction sites or at accommodation sites.
In 2017, we introduced a dedicated workers' grievance hotline. This anonymous hotline offers workers the opportunity to raise issues – directly and confidentially – related to accommodation, recruitment and working conditions with members of our Workers' Welfare team. The hotline has been popular with workers and further awareness sessions are currently being carried out to ensure all workers know about the service.
These awareness sessions have led to a change in the types of issues raised as the workers gain confidence in the impact the platform can have. More than 330 grievances have been raised, with 287 already resolved.
In an additional attempt to encourage in-depth reporting of grievances, the Workers' Welfare team partnered with the Qatar Behavioural Insights Unit (QBIU) to carry out a behavioural experiment with selected workers' welfare forums. The QBIU was created by the SC to draw on behavioural economics and psychology using low-cost, applied policy instruments. Their work begins with specific workers' welfare forums, and will then be rolled out to a wider group of worker representatives based on the rate of success and the lessons learned.
Communication with external parties
We encourage openness and honesty in our dialogue. When we signed a cooperation agreement with the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) we actively encouraged discussions and interaction between one of the world's largest trade unions and the workforce building stadiums for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Impactt Ltd. – our independent external monitor – has a team of field researchers who use unrestricted access to our sites to hear directly from the men and women on the ground who are bringing our stadiums to life. “Worker first” is Impactt's motto – a philosophy we also embrace.
In October 2017, the SC oversaw workers' welfare forum elections at worker accommodation sites in Al Shahaniya and Labour City, and at the Challenger Trading & Contracting accommodation site.
Ramu Dishahani, a 49-year-old pipe fitter from Nepal, spoke about his pride at being elected and representing his colleagues who worked on Al Janoub Stadium. Beside him was Firdos Islam from India, a 40-year-old who also worked on Al Janoub Stadium.
From 8 AM until 3 PM, the workers cast their votes for the colleagues who would represent them in the Workers' Welfare Forum. Almost 1,000 people gathered for the results.
"I'm very proud," said Ramu when the result came in. "It's important that we can talk about any issues we feel are important. I have never experienced this kind of opportunity at previous jobs."
The success of this democratic process demonstrated that workers believe the issues they face will be dealt with by colleagues who care. It also highlights their trust that the workers' welfare forums elevate issues of importance that are ultimately dealt with by the contractor and the SC.