Qatar government has been accused of threatening employees of the Canadian college, with job losses if they left the country during the summer, despite rising cases of COVID-19 infections.Qatar, which the highest per-capita infection rate in the world, with over 85,000 coronavirus cases out of the small population of 2.8 million, told the employees at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA), that they would be fired if they went back to Canada.
The employees of CNA, a Canadian college which runs a campus in Doha, spoke against the country’s detaining exploitive policy. In usual circumstances, Canadian staff goes back to Canada during summers to avoid scorching heat, but this year they had a far more critical reason to go back but the Gulf country denied them the right to move to a safer environment.
“Living in a country that has, for weeks, had the highest per-capita number of positive COVID-19 cases in the world is extremely stressful, and several CNA-Q (CNA Qatar) employees are anxious to leave for summer,” one employee said. “People just want to return to Canada for the summer to get away from this pressure cooker for a few weeks and be with family,” another staff member said.
Despite the rising rate of pandemic outbreak to the level of over 1000 cases per day, Qatar has been under process of reopening its economy, including schools, colleges and public spaces. Hence, it needs the staff members of different organisations to stay back in the country. A spokesperson for the college said: “CNA-Q employees who decide to leave Qatar and do not return to work at CNA-Q when required may have their employment agreement terminated.”
Few of the employees also questioned the regime for not allowing the staff members to take online classes from their homes in Canada, while they have been doing the same in Qatar for past few months. For even those who got the permission to go back, had been forced to return to the Doha college once the classesstarted in September.
One staff member said: “CNA employees have been teaching online from mid-March and it’s working. Many employees can’t understand why they can’t continue to do this from the safety (of) their home country.”
Qatar has been criticised globally for its treatment of migrant workers and more so for its lack of consideration of work rights for foreign nationals. In a recent human rights violation, the Amnesty International raised the issue of how the oil-rich nation hasn’t paid dues to the migrant workers working in FIFA stadium projects for months. Some, who spoke to the human rights group, said that they had been working without receiving up to seven months of pay.
Amnesty’s 52-page report – All work, no pay: The struggle of Qatar’s migrant workers for justice – threw light on Qatari regime’s exploitative attitude towards hundred migrant workers, who were employed by three construction and cleaning companies, but were forced to return home penniless. ‘Tears come to my eyes when I remember where we used to go to find food … in the bins’ – Kenyan worker told Amnesty officials
“Migrant workers told us about the hardship they endured having worked without pay on Al Bayt Stadium for months on end. They are worried about their families, who rely on the money they send home from Qatar to pay school fees and medical bills,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International.
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