migrant workers

dpa/GNA – Legislation setting a minimum wage for migrant workers came into effect in Qatar on Saturday, as part of major changes to the Gulf country’s labour market.

The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs announced the implementation of the new minimum wage and said it applies to all workers and domestic workers from all nationalities, according to Qatar News Agency.

Qatar set a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals (about 275 dollars), becoming the first country in the region to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage.

Under the legislation, employers must ensure that workers have decent accommodation and food, and also pay allowances of at least 300 and 500 riyals to cover costs of food and housing respectively, if they do not provide workers with these directly.

More than 400,000 workers or 20 per cent of the private sector will benefit directly from the new law. “This wage increase will also improve the lives of a large number of family members in the workers’ countries of origin who rely on the remittances sent every month,” said Max Tuñón from the ILO Project Office in Qatar.

Last year, the Gulf country adopted legislation, which also dismantled the “kafala” – or sponsorship – employment system, allowing migrant workers to change jobs without permission from their current employer.

More than 400,000 workers or 20 per cent of the private sector will benefit directly from the new law, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a statement.

“This wage increase will also improve the lives of a large number of family members in the workers’ countries of origin who rely on the remittances sent every month,” said Max Tunon from the ILO Project Office in Qatar.

The new labour reforms come as Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Last month, British paper The Guardian reported that more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since the country won the right to host the tournament in 2010.

Human rights group Amnesty International called on the Qatari government to investigate the deaths.

Qatar’s government said at the time that the number of deaths – which it did not dispute – was proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce.

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