ITF and ITUC condemn Qatar ICAO bid

May 10, 2013

The ITF and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have condemned the Qatari government’s reported bid to have the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) headquarters relocated from Canada to the country’s capital, Doha.

ITF general secretary David Cockroft said on 29 April: “The opposition of the ITF, the ITUC and the entire global labour movement to the idea of moving the HQ of ICAO from Montreal to Doha is not in any way an expression of approval for the current Canadian government, which regularly gives its own unions a hard time.  

“It is total opposition to the site of the world body responsible for regulating aviation safety, with its skilled staff, being used as a political football by an oil-rich state which has shown total contempt for workers’ rights. Perhaps they view getting ICAO as a consolation prize for the risk of losing the 2022 World Cup.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: “Emerging out the poisonous cloud of allegations of corruption and vote buying surrounding the World Cup decision, this could almost be an April Fool’s Day joke. Can the Qatari government really expect to transplant a vital United Nations organisation and its staff to a nation that is a byword for democratic deficit?

“The UN cannot bend to the power of the Riyal at a time when ordinary Qataris’ fights for rights are met with massive repression. It’s doubly outrageous when thousands of staff at Qatar Airways are denied the fundamental right to union membership enshrined by the UN.”

ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow added: “The people who work for the ICAO need to know that they would be moving to a rights-free zone where the fundamental standards of the International Labour Organization, a sister body of the ICAO, simply don’t apply. No foreign employee, whether a cleaner or a football star, is allowed to quit Qatar unless their employer allows them to.”

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