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John Passant

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November 2013



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



FIFA and slave labour in Qatar

We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours; 12 hours’ work and then no food all night. When I complained, my manager assaulted me, kicked me out of the labour camp I lived in and refused to pay me anything. I had to beg for food from other workers.” – Ram Kumar Mahara, 27, construction worker.

Preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar have brought to light the modern slave trade being used to build tournament infrastructure writes Jayesh Maharaj in Red Flag.

Qatar’s labour force is 94 percent migrant and mainly employed under the notorious Kafala sponsorship system. Qatari businesses rely on workers from the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, who take out loans to move to Qatar. The dreams for these workers are the promise of high wages and being able to send money home to their impoverished families.

For many the dream becomes a nightmare once they arrive. “It is the same old story”, said Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch, speaking to CNN in April, “the Kafala system, the confiscation of passports, the illegal charging of exorbitant agent fees, the inability for workers to access the courts for redress.

“Qatar has an exit visa system so you cannot leave the country without the sponsor’s say. You have a system where workers are trapped in the country and the same old abuses rear their head. Unpaid wages, wages held in arrears. It keeps workers incredibly vulnerable.”

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), also speaking to CNN, said, “These men are basically slaves … The legal system doesn’t work, their contracts are torn up at a whim. These men are very angry. They feel like their lives are being taken away.”

Under pressure from widespread outrage at working conditions, FIFA has made public statements lamenting the treatment of migrant workers. But the World Cup’s governing body has been at pains to distance itself from any influence over the brutal employment arrangements, under which 44 Nepalese workers died between 4 June and 8 August this year.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter claims that there is “plenty of time” to address labour rights issues in Qatar. With almost 90 percent of FIFA’s revenue coming from the Cup, he is in no hurry.

But time is not on the side of the modern slaves forced to build the shining stadiums. Without major improvements, the ITUC estimates that 4,000 are likely to die before the first ball is kicked in 2022.

The World Cup is considered an honour for the host nation, but the benefits have only ever flowed to the rich. In 2010 South African corporations made millions as the state poured money into World Cup preparations while scores of poor communities remained under-serviced and underdeveloped.

In Brazil this year protesters hit the streets in their tens of thousands because money that had never been found for public services flowed freely to finance the World Cup.

The Qatari government is just the latest to cash in at the expense of workers and the poor.

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