EAP Newsletter – January and February 2014

Industry stakeholders endorse recommendations in EAP report and agree to step up efforts to improve conditions for migrant construction workers in Qatar

EAP’s report on Improving Employment Standards in Construction was launched at a roundtable meeting in Doha at the W Hotel last month.

The half day meeting was held in conjunction with Constructing Excellence and chaired by Stephen Lines, Regional President of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).   The roundtable meeting was considered the first of its kind in Qatar as it brought together 30 key stakeholders including clients, project managers and contractors to discuss the necessary solutions required to improve the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar.

The EAP report was based on interviews with a number of contractors and project management consultants operating in Qatar and was a response to the Qatar Foundation’s Mandatory Standards which were released in April 2013.  The report’s preliminary findings highlighted that non-payment and late payment of wages is one of the biggest concerns to migrant workers. It is also a potential source of disruption and delay to projects and therefore a major risk to government clients and their project management consultants.  As a result, the roundtable meeting focused on cash-flow, wages and recruitment. 

All participants agreed that clients, consultants and contractors must work together and do more to improve cash-flow down the supply chain and ensure that workers are paid promptly and in full.  Potential solutions that were discussed included paying workers directly when subcontractors fail to do so and setting aside or bonding a percentage of the advance payments from clients to contractors for the protection of workers’ wages.  Participants welcomed these suggestions and hoped that they would be taken up by government clients.

A key recommendation in the report is the mandatory electronic payment (via bank accounts) of construction workers’ wages.  Generally most construction workers in Qatar are paid cash in hand. As a result they find it difficult to prove if they have not been paid or have been paid late.  Payment of wages via bank accounts will provide an audit trail that can help the workers seek redress in the event of non-payment or late payment.  To demonstrate the feasibility of this approach, two leading banks, the Commercial Bank of Qatar and Doha Bank, made presentations at the meeting. Both currently provide banking services for low income workers. 

The participants unanimously agreed that 2014 should be the year for change and that each stakeholder had a responsibility to take action now.  Plans for a Qatar Construction Industry Forum (QCIF) are already underway and were warmly welcomed. EAP will continue to support the efforts of the Qatari construction industry to deliver best practice.

London Marathon 2014

EAP's first fundraising event of the year is the London Marathon, which takes place on Sunday 13th April. Barbora Sladkova  has taken up the challenge to run for EAP! If you would like to encourage Bara and support EAP’s efforts to fight poverty and promote sustainable development, you can make a donation here.

Thematic Supplement to the 2012 Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement

The Thematic Supplement to the 2012 Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement, ‘Balancing social, environmental and economic considerations in procurement,’ has been published. It includes an article entitled ‘Increasing local content in infrastructure Procurement’ (see pg. 43) by Jill Wells, Senior Policy & Research Advisor at EAP.

The Thematic Supplement to the 2012 Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement can be downloaded here.
Date Published: 6 May 2014
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