Pakistan has taken up issue of workers' overdue salaries with Qatar — foreign office

Workers inside the Lusail Stadium on Dec. 20, 2019. The stadium is under construction for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar. (REUTERS/File)
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Updated 14 June 2020

Pakistan has taken up issue of workers' overdue salaries with Qatar — foreign office

  • DG Bureau of Overseas Pakistanis says around 700 workers had complained of salary delays but “majority” cases were resolved
  • Around 150,000 Pakistanis are currently working in Qatar, many of them on projects related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup

ISLAMABAD: A spokesperson for the Pakistani foreign office said this week Pakistan had taken up with the Qatari government the case of labourers who had been contracted to work in Qatar - many of them on projects related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup - but had not been paid in months.
On June 10, Amnesty International revealed that an investigation by the watchdog had found that around 100 migrant workers at one of the tournament’s “crown jewel” stadiums had not been paid for up to seven months, despite Qatari authorities knowing about the problem as far back as last summer. The Amnesty report does not specify whether any of the affected laborers were Pakistani.
“The Pakistani embassy [in Doha] has already taken up all such cases with Qatar’s ministry of labor,” Pakistani foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, told Arab News when asked about the overdue wages of labourers working in Qatar. “The minister of labor has also assured of his support in the resolution of such cases.”
Kashif Ahmed Noor, a director general at the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Pakistanis, said the Qatari government had promised Pakistan around 100,000 jobs related to World Cup projects in 2015, following which more than 80,000 Pakistanis were sent to Qatar. He said he did not have details of the “individual deployment of workers” but said around 150,000 Pakistanis in total were currently working in Qatar while around 700 had reported a delay in receiving their salaries.
“There were another 4,300 who registered for repatriation to avail leave [majority unpaid] from different companies due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Noor said, adding that a majority of the payment issues had been resolved
“We also received more complaints related to payments after the coronavirus outbreak,” he said, adding that Pakistan was working with the Qatari government and employers to resolve all pending issues.
Qadir Bakshi, a Pakistani laborer working on a World Cup football infrastructure project for the last three years, said he had not received a salary for the past three months, adding that he lost his job when he insisted on being paid.
Another Pakistani worker, Raja Muzzaffar from Bahawalpur, also said his employment was terminated after he was not paid for months.
In a statement released on June 10, the Qatari government’s communication office said in response to the Amnesty statement: “The government has made significant progress in recent years to reform the country’s labour system. There are still issues to overcome, including those related to the attitudes and behaviours of a small minority. This will take time, but we remain firmly committed to the task.”


35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

Updated 22 September 2020

35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

  • Labor experts say a large number of workers laid off by their organizations in the name of social distancing
  • Standard Chartered Bank survey shows 87 percent respondents said they were willing to adapt to emerging environment by using more technology

KARACHI: The coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes for at least 35 percent of Pakistanis, a survey conducted by a leading international bank said, while a large number of people had lost their livelihoods to the virus.
According to an online study carried out by Standard Chartered Bank, one-third or 35 percent of Pakistanis, including 36 percent of the country’s youth, reported a reduction in their salaries.
The study was conducted in July this year in 12 different markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, India and China. Its findings were released last week.
The study involved 12,000 individuals above the age of 18, Farhan Ahmed, the bank’s communications head in Pakistan, told Arab News on Tuesday. Among the respondents were 1,000 Pakistanis from various urban centers working in different fields, he said.
The survey showed that 88 percent people preferred to work harder for a fewer number of hours and less pay, while 72 percent were looking for a second source of earning to add to their income stream. Over 50 percent anticipated major changes in the next three to six months, with 48 percent expecting reduced pay and 49 percent fearing redundancy.
“Business owners have found a plausible excuse to cut down workforce in the name of implementing the prescribed precautionary measures that require fewer people to operate in a given space,” Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan, told Arab News.
“In the first place, people over 50 years of age were asked not to come to work,” he said. “These senior employees did not get their salaries and other benefits. After that, organizations relieved a majority of their workforce in the name of social distancing. In such cases, they reduced the number of employees by about 50 percent. The remaining staff was either laid off or retained without pay.”
In April, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), a government entity, projected that the coronavirus pandemic, ensuing lockdowns, and falling growth rates were likely to drive between 12.3 million and 18.5 million people out of jobs.
“Such estimates inadvertently downplay the actual impact of the economic downturn since they usually focus on small regions or areas of economy. It should be clear that even the primary sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining etc., have also suffered a lot,” Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News. “The second wave of virus is already hitting our trade partners in the West and that will make current estimates outdated in the coming days.”
According to Farhan Ahmed of Standard Chartered Bank, 87 percent of survey respondents said they were willing to adapt to the emerging environment by using more technology. Similarly, 83 percent respondents were confident they had the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world and were willing to explore greater opportunities by working more relentlessly in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Sixty-six percent people also said they wanted to start new businesses.
“There are many opportunities emerging for our youth who are willing to adapt,” Ahmed said. “The changing business models are providing opportunities to urban and rural dwellers alike.”