QATAR has reassured India that labour reforms will improve the conditions of more than half a million Indian migrants.
It came after prime minister Narendra Modi raised concerns of abuses during a weekend visit to the Gulf state, a statement said on Monday (6).
Qatar is home to 630,000 Indian nationals, the single largest group of migrants in the country of 2 million. Many work in low paid construction jobs, building stadiums and other infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
Rights groups accuse Qatar of abusive labour laws and forcing migrants to work under poor safety conditions. Unions and labour protests are banned, and authorities penalise dissent with jail or deportation.
A joint government statement said Modi met Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani last Sunday (5) and discussed the plight of Indian migrants.
“The Qatari side briefed the Indian side on the reform in labour laws,” said the statement issued by the prime minister’s office.
Qatar is an important partner for India, with bilateral trade in 2014/15 exceeding $15 billi on (£10bn), according to the Indian government. It is also one of the country’s key sources of crude oil.
During his visit, Modi addressed a gathering of Indian labourers in Doha.
“I am aware of the issues you are facing. I will talk about it when I meet the authorities,” Modi told them last Saturday.
“If you have issues on changing some laws and regulations, I can assure you that I will work with you all to bring about these changes,” he said.
“The people here are very fond of Indians, they trust Indians. I am sure when we raise these concerns, they will respond positively,” Modi added.