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Editorial in Bangladesh newspaper sheds light on labor plight in Qatar

Published: Updated:

An editorial in a leading Bangladesh newspaper, The Daily Star, has called attention to the treatment of Bangladeshi workers in Qatar.

The editorial titled “Why must our workers in Qatar suffer?” said: “We are appalled by the news of around 300 Bangladeshi migrant workers living in dire conditions in a Qatar labour camp as they have not been paid by their employer for the last six months.”

The editorial referred to a report in the paper a couple of days earlier that described the terrible state that the workers were are in with no running water or power, unhygienic surroundings, only two meals a day provided by a local charity and frequent illnesses with two deaths already.

The editorial said that it was “absolutely unacceptable that workers who have been employed by a foreign company through legal procedures, should be treated in such an inhumane manner.”

Compensation not paid

It said the employer, had laid off these workers when they suspended one of their construction projects. “If that is so, why should the workers have to suffer? And why were they not compensated for sudden termination of their contract?,” the newspaper asked.

Even after formal complaints have been filed in September with the labor ministry, Qatar-based rights organizations and the police, the editorial said “nothing has been done in the way of helping these workers to get out of this terrible situation.”

Although the Bangladesh embassy has offered to assist those workers who want to go back home the fact is that these workers need to send money home to their dependents makes going back an unwelcome option.

More needs to be done

The editorial concludes that “a lot more needs to be done for these workers.”

Apparently local officials assured the migrant workers that the company in question would be penalized, the immediate situation needs to be managed. “These workers have to be given adequate relief and provided hygienic living conditions. This means providing them with enough food and proper sanitation facilities.”

The editorial called on the authorities in Qatar to make sure that the company in question provides “adequate compensation packages to the workers while they wait to find other jobs or be repatriated.”

“In this scenario it is crucial for the Bangladesh authorities to negotiate with their counterparts in Qatar to ensure that these basic conditions are met… This crisis must be resolved on an urgent basis, because lives are at stake.