[Marxism] Qatar labour law opens door to unions

Stacey Barber emusis at adelphia.net
Fri May 21 14:00:30 MDT 2004

Qatar labour law opens door to unions

An official statement released from Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's
office on Thursday said the new law will come into force in six months.

Qatar's Housing and Civil Affairs Minister Shaikh Falah bin Jassim al-Thani
said the legislation allows workers to set up unions within the
establishments in which they work.

It also introduces "the right to go on strike when amicable settlements
cannot be reached between employees and employers," he said.

The legislation bans employing youth aged under 16, sets the working day at
eight hours and grants women equal rights with men, in addition to a paid
50-day maternity leave.

The new law comes just a week after the Qatari ruler allowed the formation
of professional associations for the first time in the gas-rich state, which
has only some 150,000 nationals among a population of 650,000.

Angus Hindley, Deputy Editor of Middle East Economic Digest told
Aljazeera.net that Qatar's new labour law is part of the country's
democratisation programme.

"This new law is part of the reforming process which has in effect been
going on for more than four years," Hindley said.

'Step by step reform'

"It is part of Qatar's gradual process of liberalisation and reform."

"Things are happening step by step, from deregulating the media to women
rights - and the next step that is coming will be federal elections," he

Qatar recently introduced a series of reforms, including a first written
constitution that will usher in a partly-elected Shura (consultative)
Council later this year.

Often seen as a trailblazer in the Arab world, analysts remain uncertain
whether other Arab nations will follow Qatar's example of gradual

"Qatar tends to follow its own agenda, it's hard to say if other countries
will follow - Bahrain is a possibility - but I doubt other countries will do
the same," Hindley said.

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