No World Cup without workers' rights

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Cape Town - No matter what FIFA chief Sepp Blatter may say or think, there will be no Soccer World Cup in Qatar in 2022 unless worker rights are guaranteed.  That is the blunt message from the international labour movement.

It was spelt out in those terms by Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (Ituc) at the UNI Global Union world congress being held in Cape Town.  Ituc has been to the forefront in campaigning about the conditions suffered by migrant workers, especially in the construction industry in Qatar.

Earlier, congress delegate Gail Cartmail from Britain’s 1.5 million-strong Unite union said that Qatar had “shone the spotlight” on the workers who made international sporting events possible.  In the case of Qatar, she said, “football has become bloodstained”.

Rights should be demanded

She went on to remind delegates that Blatter had been “very quick to honour Nelson Mandela’s contribution to human rights” but had turned a blind eye to what was happening in Qatar.  Blatter has been reported as saying that worker rights were not part of the FIFA brief.

However Burrow insists that the rights of workers should be part of every agreement to stage an international sporting event just as these rights should be demanded in every sector.  “The fight is on,” she said, referring to the labour movement as “the bulwark of democracy”.  

Democracy, she warned, was at risk in a continuing global economic crisis.  Unless it could be upheld it would lead to people turning to “lawless gangs and fundamentalist causes.  Unions needed to be both a “voice of opposition and a voice of progress” in a world where there were now more than 40 armed conflicts underway.

And she warned the congress:  “There are no jobs on a dead planet.”

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