Stamp out Qatar ‘forced labour’, Labour MP tells alma mater

Shadow minister and UCL alumna calls on university to do ‘all it can’ to stop practice on overseas site

August 28, 2014

Source: Corbis

The shadow minister for international development has stepped up the pressure on University College London to stamp out forced labour at a Qatar campus where the institution has a branch.

Alison McGovern, a UCL graduate, has requested a meeting with the university to discuss how it can avoid inadvertently supporting exploitation by subcontractors at the site.

Last week, Times Higher Education reported on a visit to Hamad bin Khalifa University, formerly known as Education City, by a representative of the International Trade Union Confederation. UCL is one of eight Western universities with branches there.

The ITUC found migrant workers on campus who claimed to have had their passports confiscated when they arrived in Qatar, after being forced to pay recruitment fees to get their jobs. They then had to sign new, more poorly paid contracts, the workers added.

Ms McGovern, Labour MP for Wirral South, writes that “UCL should be doing all it can” to stamp out these “unacceptable” practices in any location where it works, “even if the individuals concerned are not direct employees”.

As a UCL alumna, “I have a particular personal interest in this instance,” she adds in a letter to Dame Nicola Brewer, UCL’s vice-provost international.

The academic complex in Doha is managed by the Qatar Foundation, whose subcontractors employed the workers in question. A UCL spokesman said Dame Nicola would raise the matter with the foundation and had agreed to meet Ms McGovern to discuss the issues. Dame Nicola would also respond in full to the claims in a future edition of THE, he added.

Responding to the allegations, a Qatar Foundation spokesman said that a statement of labour standards for its contractors and subcontractors, penned in 2013, had addressed many of the ITUC’s complaints.

david.matthews@tesglobal.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi