Carillion workers in Qatar sleep 10 in a room

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Swindon Hospital Carillion workers demonstrate outside the company’s HQ in London against the company’s work practices
Swindon Hospital Carillion workers demonstrate outside the company’s HQ in London against the company’s work practices

WORKERS for Carillion in Qatar sleep ten to a room in lodging reminiscent of tenement slums in Victorian London and nothing has changed despite claims to the contrary, says a GMB officer who visited the labour camp this week.

GMB is calling on UK construction companies like Carillion operating in Qatar to recognise and do business with the new Qatari branch of the Philippines Workers Association which was launched yesterday in Doha. The launch has the support of the government of the Philippines and Embassy personnel were in attendance at the launch.

Bert Schouwenburg, GMB International Officer, is on his second visit to Qatar and attended the launch. Earlier in the week, Schouwenburg saw the appalling conditions that migrant workers employed by a Carillion sub-contractor, Medtel, are subject to in the labour camp they are resident in.

On Monday 2nd November, a 35-day Employment Tribunal hearing began in Bristol for 51 GMB members employed by Carillion in Swindon Hospital. Their full claim against Carillion include complaints of direct and indirect discrimination because of race and/or religious belief, harassment related to race and religious belief, breaches of Working Time Regulations, unlawful deductions of wages and detriment on trade union grounds.

In a separate dispute, GMB is taking Carillion to the High Court in London seeking compensation for blacklisted construction workers. 224 construction workers from around the UK were victims of blacklisting by Carillion. The next date for a High Court hearing is Dec 2015. GMB International Officer Schouwenburg said: ‘GMB welcomes the formation of a branch of the Federation of Free Workers (Philippines) in the Qatari capital, Doha.

‘For too long migrant workers have suffered at the hands of employers who have treated them as little more than slaves, safe in the knowledge that they can act with impunity in the neo-medieval desert kingdom. ‘Given that trade unions are illegal in Qatar, this is a brave move by Filipino construction workers and we look forward to migrant workers from other communities following suit.

‘GMB stands in solidarity with its trade union comrades in Qatar and calls on British companies operating there to take the lead by engaging in collective bargaining with the new organisation, thus showing that there is a civilised alternative to bonded labour, exploitation and repression.

‘This new union is badly needed as sadly Carillion has shown little commitment to cleaning up its act in Qatar. Carillion and the other UK construction firms operating in Qatar should recognise and do business with the new Qatari branch of the Philippines Workers Association.’