VINCI’S ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN QATAR
VINCI has been working on infrastructure projects in Qatar since 2007 through QDVC, a shareholding company between Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company (51%) and VINCI Construction Grands Projets (49%).
QDVC designs and builds large infrastructure and civil engineering projects. It is aiming to grow into a local construction leader in complex, highly technical structures, while managing risks, keeping everyone at its worksites safe, and meeting its customers’, partners’ and employees’ requirements.
QDVC has been involved in the construction and delivery of over 114 km of infrastructure projects in Qatar, including the Lusail Light Rail Transit System (33 km and 37 stations, including 10 underground ones), the Doha Metro’s Red Line (32 km and 5 underground stations), the New Orbital Highway 2 (47 km), Sheraton's landscaped park and underground parking lots and the underground Lusail Car Parks.
The large scale of its projects and limited availability of local workers have led the company to hire employees from a variety of countries (there are about 50 nationalities at its worksites). These include migrant workers, principally from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines.
VINCI has been aware of its role in preventing and mitigating human rights risks since it began operating in Qatar. It has taken concrete action to improve migrant workers’ living and working conditions and to fight against forced labour at every stage in the migration cycle. This applies to its own employees, temporary staff and subcontractor staff, in line with VINCI’s guidelines ( Manifesto and Guide on Human rights).
VINCI is also fully aware of the complexity of the issues surrounding workers’ rights in Qatar and works closely alongside its stakeholders to prevent any risks of breaches of human rights. A few examples follow.
Preventing risks relating to human rights, in partnership with its stakeholders and experts:
• An agreement on workers’ rights was signed in 2017 with Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI). A joint audit to assess implementation of this agreement was carried out including inspections of worksites and workers' accommodations. The audit’s entire final report is public ( press release).
• VINCI organised human rights impact assessments of QDVC, first with Vigeo in 2011 and then with BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), an NGO, in 2015.
• QDVC backed free employee representation, very early on, in particular by holding elections for its Workers’ Welfare Committee in 2016, a first in Qatar (see video at the end of the page), and asked international union representatives to take part in its second elections as observers, in 2019.
• QDVC and BWI jointly prepared and delivered a Training and Development programme for workers’ representatives.
Responsible recruitment practices recognised by its stakeholders:
• A study conducted by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights details the due diligence measures put in place by VINCI/QDVC to eradicate the payment of illegal recruitment fees for its migrant workers.
• The ILO Project Office in Qatar signed a partnership agreement with QDVC in May 2018 to work on a pilot recruitment process that is free of charge for migrant workers from Bangladesh. Verité, an NGO, carried out an initial audit. A programme to step up recruitment and placement agencies capacity was then rolled out. An impact assessment is under way.
VINCI is committed to collaborate with other companies to raise the sector’s standards and eradicating forced labour:
• VINCI is a founding member of Building Responsibly and an active member of the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, two international collaborative initiatives aimed at upgrading the industry’s standards and eliminating debt bondage.
Decent housing in accordance with local and international regulations:
• The Serge Moulène Workers’ Community was built and is operated by QDVC following the Qatar Foundation’s and VINCI’s standards. Labour City provides QDVC’s and its subcontractors’ workers with housing that strictly complies with all local requirements.
VINCI reports transparently on its practices:
• The 2019 Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) report ranks QDVC first in its 50-company benchmark for its transparency regarding efforts to prevent risks relating to human rights in its operations in Qatar. The questionnaire was prepared by NGOs, unions, the International Labour Organisation and independent researchers.
• VINCI/QDVC published its answers to the questionnaire. This report covers all the actions that QDVC has taken on health and safety, working conditions, living conditions, recruitment, due diligence with subcontractors, employee representation and grievance mechanisms.
• QDVC took specific measures for its workers in Qatar in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These measures have also been published by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
All these actions are part of our all-round approach:
• VINCI’s duty of vigilance plan
12 YEARS TAKING CONCRETE ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
• QDVC started up its construction projects with a “zero accident” safety policy.
• 1st independent CSR audit by Vigeo
• Separate division dedicated to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and workers’ welfare
• IIF (Incident and Injury Free) campaign to foster safety culture
• Subcontractor worker housing audits
• QDVC built its own workers’ community to international standards for 3,700 workers
• 1st large-scale CSR survey of migrant workers
• QDVC Workers’ Welfare Committee formally established
• Tightened recruitment practices to sidestep illegal charges in countries of origin
• BSR, audited compliance with human rights and concluded that “despite a challenging context, QDVC has a good level of performance”
• 1st elections of the Workers’ welfare committee representatives, a first in Qatar (4,108 workers, 72% participation)
• Psychological support and counseling services provided to all QDVC workers through a network of trained psychologists from various nationalities.
• Procedure and in-depth audits of compliance with subcontractor workers’ rights
• Signed an agreement on workers’ rights with BWI at the ILO in Geneva
• VINCI became a founding member of Building Responsibly alongside other sector leaders
• VINCI joined the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment
• NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights study on QDVC’s ethical recruitment practices
• The ILO and QDVC signed a partnership agreement on a pilot recruitment project (free of charge for workers)
• BWI audit with French unions (CGT, CFDT and CFE/CGC) on agreement implementation
• 2nd elections for QDVC worker representatives
• A delegation of French journalists visited the worksites and workers’ accommodation
• COVID-19 prevention programme and specific measures to protect all employees
• Part of research project with ILO and ministries to safeguard rights of migrant workers during workplace conflicts
• Q4 2020 Publish results of the pilot project in partnership with the ILO