Vinci and Sherpa clash over Qatar workers
By Chris Sleight24 March 2015
French pressure group Sherpa has launched a campaign against Vinci for alleged mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar. The contractor has denied the claims and launched a defamation lawsuit against Sherpa.
Sherpa has made allegations of forced labour and other illegal practices against QDVC, which is a Qatari construction company 49% owned by Vinci. It says it has collected "Damning evidence on working conditions on QDVC construction sites."
A statement from Vinci denying the allegations said, “We have repeatedly welcomed unions, international NGOs and journalists onto our building sites. They have ascertained that we do more than merely comply with local labour law and respect fundamental rights. All QDVC employees are free to retrieve their passports at any time, and we strictly observe working hours and rest time.
“Vinci strives to improve employee working and living conditions throughout the world. This is the case in Qatar, where we have built new housing facilities at the beginning of this year in order to provide our workers with better living conditions. Moreover, 70% of our workers decide to return to QDVC and sign new two-year contracts when their previous contracts expire and they return from their holidays.”
The company said it has launched a lawsuit against Sherpa, saying its allegations constitute an attack on its image.
QDVC’s other shareholder is Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, part of the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund. QDVC was established in 2007, and Vinci says the company employs 3,500 people in Qatar.