First EAP podcast highlights protection of construction worker rights

We are delighted to begin 2022 with a new EAP podcast series, featuring influential leaders, practitioners & advocates who will discuss critical issues in infrastructure and development. Infrastructure has taken centre stage over the past year, with countries increasingly turning to the sector as a means of stimulating economies and as global movements such as the Blue Dot Network and the G7 look at how to improve the sector to meet pressing global issues.

Bringing the rights of migrant construction workers to light

For our first podcast, Dr Jill Wells, expert in labour issues in the construction industry speaks with EAP Programme Director, John Hawkins on the key concerns affecting migrant construction workers in the Gulf region. EAP has long researched and influenced policy on this issue, to help address poor working conditions and late and delayed payment to workers. The issue has also been gaining more attention, with Qatar 2022 fast approaching and a pledge within the G7 2021 Summit Communique to improve labour standards within a $US 100 billion investment in infrastructure.

Dr Wells explains why the issue of late and no payment to workers is so prevalent in the construction industry due to the set-up of the many layers of sub-contracting within the supply chain, seeing workers at the bottom disconnected from the principal contractors at the top.

She explains the consequences of delayed payment in countries such as Qatar where workers cannot send remittances back home, workers slow down or steal materials to survive. Ways of improving the situation are discussed, from practical solutions such as providing a hotline for workers to amending legislation for long-term change.

Some of the pitfalls of solutions which centre less on prevention are also discussed, such as remedies to recover wages. Whilst these are helpful, the framework to ensure prompt payment should be addressed to ensure full protection of worker rights and an end to forced labour.