We need your help
The Human Rights Committee and Ministry of Interior here in Qatar must become pro-active in ending the abuses taking place in its own country.
Human Rights abuses are more frequent in Qatar than what is actually reported. They are masked and hidden to the outward eyes looking in! The sponsors abusing law and human rights are often protected because they are Qatari Nationals. The rest of us which experience this abuse live in fear of reporting it to Authorities. Even in cases where it is reported, next to no action is taken against the perpetrator.
Instead those that do report such actions are often cancelled and deported or left to face bogus cases with all their rights stripped from them.
Come inside Qatar with us to take a look at what this dynamic, growing country, striving to gain a respectable image around the world - is really about.
Come on Inside!
Inside we see new towers everyday; grass growing in a baren land that once just a dessert; flowers that bloom in all shades and colors; a beautiful sea that practically surrounds the entire country; and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
One can only look on with great respect as this small country comes to life under amazing leadership. Qatar's vision under his excellency comes alive because of the hundreds of thousands of laborers and people from all professions and nationalities that come to bring this vision to reality!
The expat community are contributing members of this society and this country. Without this community today and its ability to be sustained in the future Qatar will not realize its' ultimate vision.
One would have us believe that from a human rights point of view Qatar is progressing. It has in many ways progressed by instituting organizations such as the National Human Rights Committee. But at the end of day these bodies have next to no decision making authority.
The laws are in place but there is no one to enforce them. Let's take a look inside Qatar at what life is really like for the expats that devoted a part of their life to come and build this nation.
Let's take a look at all the camps of laborer's where accomodations are not fit for animals let only people.
Let us look at all the laborer's who came to Qatar from difficult countries with the hope of being able to provide better for their families. Their dream's shattered when they go months without the salary they rightfully earned.
Let us look at all the worker's needlessly killed and seriously injured because their employees chose to break the law.
Let us look at how often a sponsor gets away with wreckless and criminal negligence only to have those seeking their rights promised by law punished.
When you come inside you will wonder how is such a wealthy country, with such strong leadership and vision allowing it's own people to abuse human rights.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Fully committed to her husband's vision is Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned.
Together they are committed to making Qatar a prosperous, developed and sustainable society with a strong leadership voice on the Interational stage. As leaders and great visionaries, we believe in and support their actions.
But there are still things in this country that require change. Namely the sponsorship laws. Most sponsors in Qatar are excellent and professional people. Working under such sponsors and with good professional companies can be a very rewarding experience.
But what happens when you end up with an abusive sponsor in a company that is grossly negligent and does not even respect its' own laws? A sponsor that controls your life, your work, your movements, your freedom. What happens when you dare to question your right to be paid under such a sponsor? Or you dare too question the breaking of laws or treating people inhumanely like animals? What happens when you decide you cannot work in a company like this?
Despite the great many achievements in this wonderful country, there are still companies and sponsors that are getting away with things that are simply not tolerated by the vast majority of the world.
We started this blob in an attempt to raise awareness of the situation at Group Security System. Since that time very little has been done to hold this sponsor accountable. Employees remain in the same vial situation since it was reported to the Ministry of Interior, Human Rights Committee and Department of Labor.
What has come from this experience for us has been a greater awareness of human rights in Qatar. It is shocking to see how much is hidden, not reported and left to go by the way-side with no consequence or accountability.
You can help us by sending your messages of concern to the Minister of Interior and Amnesty International. Email the Minister of Interior at email@example.com and Amnesty International at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. Minister,
We seek your urgent assistance for the employees of Group Security System in Doha, Qatar. These employees are not being paid for long periods of time and are living in bacteria infested accomodations with minimal water and basic needs. They are terrified to ask for the basic rights which is to be paid for the work they do. Requests for salary and basic needs will result in immediate cancellation and exit from the country. They are not even given the opportunity to reach CEID or the Labor Board before being exited.
We request Mr. Minister that you investigate this matter urgently.
At the beginning of November 2007, after not being paid for two months the employees at Group Security System wrote a letter to the owner asking to be paid.
Upon receipt of the letters and to prove his point to employees, GSS cancelled three people for daring to ask and coordinate such a letter. Here are two of their stories:
The owner went to the accomodations at Al Rayan and in front of many staff members slapped this man in the face a few times and then locked him in his room. While locked in his room, they prepared cancellation papers and then physically escorted him to the airport so he would have no chance to complain to authorities.
The second happened to be a lady from the Phillipines. Her personal home was invaded by four GSS staff while they forced her to pack and collect her belongings. She was escorted to the airport where they held her bags and money in the parking control room, giving her no opportunity to get help. She left without the benefits she was entitled too.
The control room is at the Doha International Airport who happen to contract with this company. We don't think they know the extent of the negligence that goes on. Nor do we understand how an award winning airline like Qatar Airways does business with a company that is ignorant to the basic rights of their employees.
There is no easy way to explain what the accommodations for the GSS staff are like. For many it is like nothing we have ever seen before. For the managers of GSS visiting there always proved to be difficult. Staff would group together refusing to get on the buses for work because of non-payment of salary - so managers always had to run out to the camps.
Each and everytime was a dreaded experience having to go to the camps. It does not seem possible to work in a company that makes people live this way. For the owner, I doubted he cared much as his homes in Qatar, Beruit and Dubai are perfect. But for the managers there was a feeling of embarassment and shame.
Our Canadian friends tell us that one night she was called to the accomodations because of salary issues. It was dark and as she opened the door to enter the camp she stepped into two feet of sewage. The entire camp was flooded with sewage. The smell was foul and she was sick. The thought that her feet and legs were standing in sewage brought her stomach right to her throat. Her staff stayed four days in this sewage before they managed to scrap some money together to get it cleaned out.
The camps are dirtier than most barns where animals live. There is often backed up sewage in the washrooms and broken pipes that spills out to other areas. The bacteria and other matter which one would dare not touch is sometimes an inch thick. The accommodations are a cestpool of bacteria, sewage and fecal matter and we dare not wonder what viruses, diseases and other things are growing in there. The kitchen is a place you would not dare to cook in or even put your food in.
There are cockroaches the size of something most have never seen before. Many of the men passed good parts of the summer with no airconditioning in the room and there is never enough water for all them. Not to mention no drinking water at all!
Some have no beds and must sleep on the floor, while others that do have beds would be better off on the floors. These people work 12 hours a day, seven days a week with no break. They don't get paid, and then they go home to live in a cestpool of garbage and waste. They ask only for their basic rights and nothing more.
If you are not happy with how you must live or not getting paid you have no option at GSS. You are forced to continue to work there and if you complain rest assured you will be cancelled. Tell us would you do it?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
You always get a few people no matter where you work that are simply not good workers or they are trouble. But we want to honor the majority of people that at GSS.
They work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Some for as little as 800 QR. They go months without being paid and live in vial conditions. They have problems at home with their families, because they are not sending money home to help. Not their fault but the owner of GSS's fault.
Yet everyday, despite how little they have eaten, how little the might have slept - they go to work for the next twelve hour shift and do their jobs to the very best of their ability. Yet no matter what they remain respectful.
Yes after two months of not being paid they try to strike because they don't know how else to get their salaries which is desparately needed by this point. Let's admit there are not too many of us out there that would even consider working in such conditions.
Yet all these people want is to do their duties and be paid for their work and to have their basic needs met. Daring to ask the company will definitely result in your immediate cancellation. Of course why care, when one is busy supporting their extravagent lifestyle? Why bother with company money to pay salaries to the employees. In the real world companies take profit after expenses and taxes. At GSS, it is profits are before expenses and taxes.
These workers deserve to be honored for doing their duties despite the difficulties they must endure!
Our Canadian friend tells us:
There have been several of us in the past few years. Five to be exact! Some lasted a bit longer than others. All chose to leave for the same reasons. And all suffered for resigning at the hands of this abusive company.
Many warned me ahead, you will not resign without payment of your blood. How true that statement is! This company does not accept any resignation and if they can't cancel you they will certainly make every attempt to ruin you. Each of us has suffered to varying degrees of being tormented by this company.
They file police reports, have false claims and letters written by friends and will go to any extreme to have you banned or arrested for something you did not do. You are put in the paper and every effort is made to let as many people as possible know that you are a bad person.
GSS has caused great pain to its' managers for resigning. One manager is currently enduring the pain of having resigned. Another manager managed to stay in Qatar, whereas the previous ones were thrown out. But he did not stay without difficulty. He was robbed of his final rights for salary and benefits, left for four months not able to work and earn an income - unable to support himself or send money home for his wife and children.
Negligence and abuse of Qatar laws is not tolerated. Companies that choose to behave this way can not get away with removing freedom, for freedom of the heart and soul cannot be silenced!
She was hired as the General Manager and had about 270 people reporting to her. Within a week she became aware of many issues. People had not been paid for two months, they were hungry and when she visited them at the accomodations she thought for sure she would be sick. She says to put it midly "I would not allow an animal to live in the housing they live in - let alone a human being".
She was sure there had to be a mistake. "This Qatari man that hired me can't possibly not know what is going on". Staff were telling me wait one more week he will gone from Doha and you will see the truth.
"Excerts from her email to us - My friends, they were right! About a week later he left for Dubai and then Beirut. He goes for long periods of time and I can honestly say in my six months there I saw him maybe a total of eight times for an hour here and there. In the meantime I was left with a company I had no clue how was going to get them out of the mess they were in.
By June 2007, I wanted to leave the company. But I felt I was abadoning the staff and chose to stay on and try whatever I could to help. In the months to come, I began to understand all the details of the company, its' money and its' owner. By August 2007 I decided this company I cannot work in a company that is grossly negligent and breaks the laws. The company has no interest in paying people, treating people fairly and is much more concerned with what money can be removed from the company.
I decided I must resign. I cannot work in a company that steals, cheats and is negligent. This is when I was warned by many be careful because this Qatari won't let you resign. He will destroy your life first as he did to the past five managers.
None-the-less, I am a Canadian and I am not working for a company that breaks the laws and treats people in in-humane ways that I cannot accept. Finally, I was able to submit my resignation, giving plenty of notice and my desire to assist as much as possible. During my notice period while working at GSS and behind my back he had my visa stopped.
This Canadian Citizen is now a prisonner to GSS. There is something remarkably funny about this, because I am sure GSS now not know what Canadians are made of. This company does not scare me and in fact I think it is nothing more than abuse and intimidation tactis that they have gotten away with for way too long.
In Canada, we don't tolerate companies like this, nor do we accept this kind of behavior in our society. Furthermore, we do not accept anyone or any company that abuses the fundamental basic rights of another human being. GSS cannot remove my freedom, because my freedom is a state of mind and heart. You can stop me from exiting, but you can't stop me from expressing my freedom.
This company has taken what was meant to be proper sponsorship laws and has turned it in their own laws where I own you, I can do what I want to you and I can cancel you at anytime if I feel like it. If you are not happy that you have not been paid I will have you cancelled so you cannot return.
What I find incredibely saddening is that the great country of Qatar is blemished by such a company. What I find even more saddening is the 270 people I left behind to tolerate this company's abuse".
Help us help to assist our Canadian friend and all the managers and workers at GSS. Vote on this blog and send your letters to the Minister and Amnesty.
Most people that come to work here end up with excellent employers and as a result they and their families benefit greatly.
But accepting a job at GSS is the exact opposite because you have been misled. Every employee of GSS including myself have been misled by thinking they were coming to work for a good employer. Once you are here, it takes only weeks to realize the dire mistake one has made.
Most employees have signed contracts by this point and the company has started the visa process. Once you have done this you are a prisoner this company and its' abusive negligent practises. It is a guarantee that you will not suffer not being paid and that you will be subjected to inhumane treatment.
No one leaves GSS not hurt.
Anyone thinking to accept a job in this company must beware!
In the News - The Gulf Times - Sleepless in Doha
Letters to the Editor
Published: Monday, 11 August, 2008, 01:38 AM Doha Time
A sense of hope
Dear Sir, I would like to applaud Gulf Times for all its recent articles on the issues faced by the labour community in Qatar. It gives me a great sense of hope that people do in fact care about what happens to these people. I have had a very painful battle for well over a year now for having reported a company that was severely negligent with its employees and chose to break Qatar law.
While I have seen progress on behalf of the government and National Human Rights Committee, I feel that is very slow in coming. Companies are behaving this way because they are getting away with it and they bear no consequence for their actions. Since that time many labourers from other companies have come to me seeking help and guidance. I guess news spreads rapidly throughout this community and it is hard to turn your back on something you know is very wrong.
Reporting and following up on these matters has brought some help forward for these people. For me my actions have earned me the status of being detained by one owner determined to seek revenge. I have now been over one year in Qatar on an expired visa and am unable to exit.
Human Rights issues cannot be hidden by money and wealth and the companies who choose to behave in such a way should be exposed for what they are. I hope Gulf Times will continue to publish such stories.
Christine McPherson, P O Box 10445Doha
In the News
Since this accident we have made it a point to drive throughout Doha during the hours of 11:30 to 3:00 pm and have found many worksites were not shut down and laborers continued to work.