Harry Kane urged to speak up for migrant workers by labourer who is owed £1,500 in UNPAID wages

Harry Kane urged to speak up for migrant workers by labourer who is owed £1,500 in UNPAID wages

England striker Harry Kane is being urged to speak up for migrant workers by a labourer who is owed £1,500 in unpaid wages for his work at the World Cup stadium where England will face the USA on Friday.

The Nepalese worker toiled for less than £10-a-day to help build the brand-new 60,000 seat Al Bayt facility, which is 20 miles from the Qatar capital, Doha, and he claims he never received wages and a severance payment due to him at the end of his contract.

In desperation, Narayan Prasad Sigdel has recorded a video message with a human rights group pleading with Kane and other international footballers to use the World Cup to assist in securing withheld wages and fair pay for migrants.

A labourer in Qatar has urged England captain Harry Kane to speak up for migrant workers

The video highlights yet again the uncomfortable truth of staging the competition in Qatar, just days after England and Wales players were banned from wearing ‘One Love’ armbands at the tournament, which were intended to show support for LGBTQ communities.

Thousands of migrant workers have lost their lives and slaved for pitiful wages, often in appallingly hot conditions, to build the infrastructure to stage the tournament in the 12 years since Qatar was awarded the FIFA World Cup.

In contrast, the wealthy oil state hopes to use the event to promote itself around the globe and FIFA will pocket more than £3 billion in revenue from the competition.

Meanwhile players like Kane, whose weekly salary at Tottenham Hotspur is believed to be £200,000-a-week, earn the daily wage of a low-paid labourer or hotel worker every 30 seconds.

Even so, in the video message, the worker graciously wishes Kane and England good luck, insisting he wants the Three Lions to win the World Cup, but he asks them to use their platform to ‘speak up for workers’ suffering’ in Qatar.

‘What I’d like to say to Harry Kane [and] these international players coming to play the World Cup [is] we request that you speak up for workers suffering at the World Cup stadium through media or whatever means you can help us,’ said Sigdel, who has now returned to his wife and three children the Nawalpur district of Nepal, about 50 miles east of the capital, Kathmandu.

Kane played a key role for England during their impressive 6-2 victory against Iran on Monday

‘If workers are able to get paid properly, because you say something, please do it!’ he added in the video shot by the human rights group, Equidem, and shared with Mail Online.

‘I wish you all the best for the upcoming World Cup,’ he told Kane. ‘And hope your team succeeds in taking first position.’

More than 6,500 migrant workers from five countries – Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka - died in Qatar between 2010 and 2020, according to figures collected by their home countries and collated by The Guardian, last year. Their deaths are largely unexplained because of a lack of investigation or record keeping by the Qataris.

Narayan Prasad Sigdel shared how he is owed £1,500 in unpaid wages for work on stadiums

In addition, the widespread abuse of workers during the construction of stadiums and other facilities, and in the running hotels in the Middle Eastern state, have been recorded by rights groups.

The World Cup, which has been dogged by controversy, began on Sunday with an extravagant opening ceremony, followed by a lacklustre display from the hosts, who lost 2-0 to Ecuador.

On Monday, England thrashed Iran 6-2, with Kane claiming two assists, and Wales drew with the USA 1-1-, thanks to a late Gareth Bale equalizer.

Equidem has continued to interview staff at stadiums into the final weeks of preparation for the tournament and it claims abuse has been ongoing, despite improvements to labour laws.

Equidem, which specialises in labour rights, has spoken to 60 stadium workers about pay and conditions during two years, with their research only concluding in October. They found abuses at all eight FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums.

He helped construct the World Cup's Al Bayt Stadium, where England will face USA on Friday

The Equidem report, entitled ‘If We Complain We Are Fired’, was published this month and said 15 per cent of those interviewed claimed they had unpaid wages, almost half highlighted rights violations and they all said they had been forced to pay illegal recruitment fees.

Sigdel, who is in his thirties, said he was paid 1,000 Qatari Rials (about £230) per month, after deductions for food. He said he was illegally charged more than £400 in recruitment fees to start work in Qatar in December 2019, which was never refunded. 

He finished work in the small Middle East country, where he was a driver at the Al Bayt stadium, in March this year, and a further £1,500 was withheld, he claimed to Equidem.

‘Whatever the government says and whatever pretext, it is trying to cover the truth,’ said Sigdel. ‘There are thousands of workers like me, who are not getting what they are owed. There are many of us.’

Mustafa Qadri, chief executive of Equidem told Mail Online the abuse of workers was still widespread.

The Nepalese worker toiled for less that £10-a-day to help build the new 60,000 seater venue 

‘So many workers have not been paid. It should be simple: You do work and you get paid.

‘Billions of dollars have been poured into this tournament and billions more will come out of it and this worker has not been paid a tiny sum in comparison, but it is a huge amount for him and his family and he has earned it. That money would make a huge difference to him.

‘Narayan mentions Harry Kane and it shows that the England captain is a global figure and even in Nepal people look up to him. When we were in Narayan’s village, children were running about in England kits.

'England is a popular team world-wide and people look to it. If Harry Kane made a statement about this it would be really, really significant.

‘And If Qatar – or FIFA - does not commit to paying Narayan, I would hope that the England team or the FA will show them up and pay it for them. It would make a huge impact.

USA talisman Christian Pulisic starred during his side's 1-1 draw against Wales on Monday

‘We are tracking down thousands of workers who are owed money like this,’ added Qadri. ‘The Qatari government is saying ‘we have reformed the law and everything is fine’. But it is not. The workers are terrified.’

Under pressure from human rights organisations and FIFA, Qatar has implemented reforms to its labour system in recent years.

However, critics say the changes have not been fully implemented and there is also concern that a compensation fund for families of those killed has not been established.

In a response to Equidem, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2022, said the rights’ group’s report ‘presents a completely unbalanced picture of the significant progress’ it has made.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been heavily criticised for his close relationship with Qatar

The Supreme Committee said the introduction of Workers’ Welfare Standards ‘have ensured decent working and living conditions’.

‘The WWS are designed to protect their health, safety and welfare and to ensure they are treated with the utmost dignity and respect,’ added the Supreme Committee. ‘Most critically, the WWS are embedded in our tendering process… and are contractually binding.’

The Supreme Committee says it audits construction sites and has taken action against companies that have failed to meet standards. It claims more than 49,000 workers have been reimbursed after paying illegal recruitment fees.

One thousand Riyals per month is now the minimum wage in Qatar, under a new law introduced last year, with employers required to provide board and lodging, or pay an allowance of 500QR for food and 300QR for accommodation.

Infantino urged that he 'felt like a migrant worker' in a bizarre speech before the tournament

Prior to the tournament, FIFA caused controversy when it urged competing teams to ‘focus on football’, rather than be ‘dragged into every ideological or political battle’.

Speaking on the eve of the tournament, FIFA president Gianni Infantino demanded western countries ‘stopped giving moral lessons’ on human rights.

In a bizarre press conference, Infantino said: ‘Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel (like) a migrant worker.’

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