Health and safety representatives in the union signed a statement at their conference last week highlighting reports that at least 185 Nepalese workers were killed on construction sites in 2013 and warning that the number of fatalities could soar if nothing is done. It called for an end to the kafala system which enslaves people working in the country.
General secretary Mike Clancy has now written to FIFA president Joseph Blatter calling on the organisation to send a very strong and clear message to Qatar that "it will not allow the World Cup to be delivered on the back of a system akin to modern slavery, which is the reality for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers there today."
He added that companies, governments and FIFA must not be complicit in treating workers in Qatar in this manner and must respond to the escalating death toll.
"Conservative estimates, based on data on deaths of Nepalese and Indian workers alone, are that more than 4000 workers will die before a ball is kicked in 2022," the letter said.
If FIFA was serious about Qatar continuing to host the World Cup in 2022, it should:
- demand immediate steps to give workers the rights to negotiate wages and conditions
- establish worker health and safety influence
- set up effective legal compliance through a tribunal system for complaints.
After hearing about the Prospect letter, the ITUC Qatar 2022 campaign team emailed a message to the union.
"Many thanks for your support for labour rights for workers in Qatar," the message said. "We've just returned from Qatar and the fear among workers to speak out about unsafe working conditions is only growing.
"We know that FIFA has the power and influence to make abolishing kafala and the provision of international standards a condition of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022."
The message stressed the importance of health and safety experts highlighting the risks facing migrant workers in Qatar.