The field visits and monitoring team of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) stressed the need for taking further awareness-raising measures and campaigns to protect workers and vulnerable groups, noting that the committee continues to provide the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) with cases and complaints received by it under the current circumstances in order to resolve them.
During their meeting with officials from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the team underlined the need to make more efforts to provide the necessary health services and the right to treatment and medicine for all citizens and residents in Qatar, especially the vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, people with chronic disease, and low-income workers, in light of the coronavirus (Covid-19) spread.
This came as a continuation of the series of meetings and field visits that the NHRC has undertaken to penal institutions, detention centres, police stations, the Industrial Area, workers’ accommodations and hotel guests who are under quarantine.
Vice-Chairman of the NHRC Dr Mohamed bin Saif al-Kuwari confirmed in a press statement that the NHRC’s field visits and monitoring team have met with officials of the Labour Relations Department at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs with the aim of familiarising themselves with the ministry’s measures and procedures regarding protecting workers’ rights in light of the current health crisis.
Dr al-Kuwari noted that officials of the ministry provided an overview of the measures taken by it regarding workers’ rights and payment of wages during the coronavirus crisis, as well as the awareness campaign launched by the ministry, including the nearly 2,400 field visits targeting approximately 160,000 workers.
He added that the ministry’s officials indicated that it had instructed a number of measures to be taken by companies, which include exchanging information to increase workers ‘awareness and taking into account personal hygiene, restricting assembly to a minimum and reducing density, whether in accommodations or at work sites.
Other measures to be taken includes the role of the Occupational Safety and Health Supervisor defined by the policy on the procedures applied by companies to take advantage of clinics and conduct health check-ups for workers to ensure their safety and to reduce their bus capacity to 50%, as well as reiterating that the ministry’s Labour Inspection Department will monitor the companies’ compliance with this policy.
Concerning the facilities offered to workers and the regulations used to facilitate the transfer of their salaries and money in light of the precautionary measures taken by Qatar, officials indicated that the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs co-ordinated with the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) in this regard due to the precautionary measures and the closure of exchange shops, by facilitating the procedures and providing applications for financial transfers and to the applications currently in the country.
In addition, the ministry conducted awareness campaigns directly and through the ministry’s social media, on the mechanism of using those applications, whether for workers or the employer.
They also reaffirmed that the payment of wages for workers, whether they are in quarantine or who have been isolated, will continue based on instructions issued by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.
They referred to the hotline number 40280660 to report any violations related to the work sector. The worker can submit any labour complaints through the labour complaints service via text messages, which are available throughout the day in several languages, and is decided upon immediately, by sending a text message to 92727.
At the end of the meeting, the NHRC field visits and monitoring team called to refer cases that are difficult to settle amicably to the Labour Dispute Resolution Committee and to settle them via electronic means, while intensifying instructions and awareness in the Industrial Area. There should also be follow-up to complaints submitted and follow-up agreements between the employer and workers, so that there is no abuse by the employer. The NHRC stressed the need for continuous co-operation between it and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, especially in light of the current circumstances.
On the other hand, during their meeting with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the field visits and monitoring team of the National Human Rights Committee reviewed the precautionary measures and health services provided by the health institutions to combat the outbreak of Covid-19), and monitor the conditions and rights of citizens and residents, especially those who are vulnerable, such as elderly, people with disabilities or chronic diseases, workers and those with low-income, in accordance with the international laws, agreements and covenants of human rights.
Dr Mohamed Saif al-Kuwari, said that the meeting was held to determine the extent of provision of healthcare and improving the people’s health, especially those who are vulnerable, in implementation of Article 3/10 of Decree Law No 17 of 2010.
He explained that the officials from the ministry confirmed that the precautionary measures were taken in implementation of the preventive measures taken by the official authorities in order to avoid the transmission of Covid-19 inside community, and as a part of the comprehensive strategy that cares about the health of citizens and residents, equally.
The ministry officials explained that based on Qatar’s interest in the health of all its residents, a plan was developed to prepare and be ready to fight Covid-19 and to take all measures and precautions that need to be taken in such framework.
They also noted that the ministry’s strategy is based on several pillars that include sharing awareness with the community, as well as doing tests and searching for the individuals that could possibly be transmitting in the community, and providing a sufficient amount of beds for the new cases, pointing out in this context that five hospitals have been designated to treat the people who have the virus. According to the instructions of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA), the total number of beds would be 14,000, they added.
They stressed that hospitals provide the highest standards of care and attention for the patients and that the MoPH has taken proactive measures in co-operation with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), regarding the cleaning and sanitising of the Industrial Area, from Street No 1 to 32, to reduce the spread of the virus.
In accordance with the standards of ministry, field hospitals have been provided and quarantine and medical isolation units were equipped in record time, besides activating a number of distance health services; to facilitate reaching medical care, in the Primary Health Care Corporation and Hamad Medical Corporation, in co-operation with “Tasmu Smart Qatar” programme, as well as the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Qatar e-Governmental Portal (Hukoomi) and Qatar Post, besides co-operating with a number of prominent digital solution providers.
At the end of the meeting, the field visits and monitoring team of the National Human Rights Committee have well received the strict precautionary measures taken by the health ministry, and made a number of recommendations that included the emphasis that health services are to be provided for all who live in Qatar, whether citizens or residents, especially the elderly, and those with disabilities, as well as those with chronic diseases, pregnant women, workers and those with low-income.