Qatar becomes ‘extreme risk’ for working conditions after deaths at World Cup building sites

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
3 February 2014

3 February 2014 | Will Green

Qatar has shifted from “high” to “extreme risk” for working conditions after the deaths of migrant workers at building sites for the 2022 World Cup.

According to Maplecroft, firms associated with the country face a range of reputational risks following estimates by the International Trade Union Confederation that 4,000 migrant workers could die in construction projects in the run-up to the tournament.

Maplecroft said 185 Nepalese workers died in the country in 2013 “as a result of working conditions that critics claim are tantamount to modern-day slavery”.

Along with Qatar, a further 10 countries' ratings have worsened in Maplecroft’s Working Conditions Index (WCI), which evaluates 197 states on minimum wage levels, working hours and health and safety. They are Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen, Comoros, Madagascar, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania, Georgia and Bolivia, bringing the total number of nations defined as extreme risk to 60, a 22 per cent increase between 2013 and 2014.

Conditions at World Cup and Olympic Games construction sites in Brazil have also raised concerns, and though the country has improved it remains in the extreme risk category, along with Russia, host of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The past year saw the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory with the loss of 1,127 lives in Bangladesh, which is at number five in the WCI, with only Eritrea, North Korea, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo performing worse.

Lizabeth Campbell, head of human rights at Maplecroft, said: “Deadly but preventable workplace tragedies have propelled working conditions into the 2013 headlines, resulting in wider scrutiny of business practices across many sectors and countries.

“In addition to the potential for reputational damage and supply chain disruptions, these disasters have prompted serious questions regarding corporate responsibility, which have forced this issue high up the risk register for many multinational companies.”

Top 10 worst performing countries for working conditions:

1= Eritrea

1= North Korea

1= Syria

4. DR Congo

5. Bangladesh

6. Somalia

7= Afghanistan

7= Pakistan

9= South Sudan

9= Zimbabwe

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