Like The Hoya’s editorial board, Georgetown University is committed to the welfare of migrant workers in Qatar.
Our commitment to our workers drove us to partner with the Qatar Foundation to establish a Joint Task Force on Migrant Worker Welfare in January 2017; we have spent the past year implementing its recommendations. As one of six American universities in Qatar’s Education City, we are committed to upholding our Jesuit values that champion global engagement, social justice and the common good.
We hold all of our contractors to the Qatar Foundation’s Mandatory Standards of Migrant Workers’ Welfare for Contractors and Sub-Contractors, standards that have become a model throughout Qatar. We are committed to the enforcement of those standards and addressing any complaints that arise.
GU-Q has two employees who interact directly with workers, continuously helping them with needs and challenges. These staff members vet potential contractors’ worker welfare plans, perform audits on contractors’ compliance with our standards and require corrective action plans when those standards are not met.
Most importantly, they listen to our workers and address their concerns. They serve as trusted resources on whom workers rely, and to whom workers can raise questions and concerns about their working or living conditions. Our worker welfare staff, in collaboration with their Qatar Foundation counterparts, has helped resolve 17 of the 18 concerns raised by workers to the satisfaction of the worker.
Our Joint Task Force has also been researching best practices, interviewing worker welfare experts and consulting with the nonprofit labor rights group Verite to further enhance migrant worker welfare. The task force has developed a number of recommendations that are already being implemented — from training contractors on our expectations, to enhancing contractor monitoring and auditing processes, to making it easier for workers to understand their rights and report grievances.
The 122 migrant workers contracted at GU-Q are valued members of our community. They cater dining halls, clean classrooms, provide IT support, manage offices and much more.
We understand Georgetown’s responsibility to promote migrant worker welfare in Qatar. We care deeply about this work, recognize the challenges ahead and are committed to continuing to improve the conditions for migrant workers on our own campus and throughout the region.
Robert Groves is the executive vice president and provost at Georgetown University. He is also the Gerard J. Campbell, S.J. professor in the Math and Statistics Department and the Sociology Department.
The editorial cited in this Letter to the Editor, “Extend Rights to Qatar Campus,” was written by The Hoya’s editorial board. The editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the Opinion Editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual board member.