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Exclusive: Qatari Firm Fires North Koreans, Cites Labor Exploitation

FILE - Construction cranes and bulldozers operate in Doha, June 25, 2013.
FILE - Construction cranes and bulldozers operate in Doha, June 25, 2013.

A renowned construction company in Qatar has fired 90 North Korean laborers -- nearly half of its entire North Korean workforce -- for breaching its labor regulations.

The decision by Qatar’s Construction Development Company (CDC) came after repeated violations of local laws and regulations by the workers and inhumane treatment of the workers by their supervisors, according to the minutes of a meeting between representatives of the company and North Korean officials that was exclusively obtained by the VOA Korean Service.

The company asked the North Korean officials to provide the names of workers to be repatriated by May 4. In the minutes dated on May 3, the company cited a series of violations and misconduct by the North Korean workers and their supervisors. The two-page document has names and signatures of four North Korean officials who participated in the meeting.

“The Korean supervisors responsible for the wellbeing of their workers have been continuously forcing them to work more than 12 hours a day. The food provided to their workforce is below standards. Site health and safety procedures are ignored regularly,” said one representative of the company, according to the document.

The company had initially sought to dismiss all the North Korean workers, but later reduced the number of workers to be fired at the request of North Korean officials. The remaining workers were allowed to stay on condition that they do not take part in any rules violations, including misbehavior at the working site, non-compliance of health and safety procedures, working at other construction sites, consuming and manufacturing alcohol, and disobeying local laws.

CDC builds luxury hotels and government facilities in Qatar, with its annual revenue amounting to $300 million The company requires all its employees and associate companies to adhere to international labor and ethics rules.

Currently, there are about 3,000 North Korean laborers in Qatar. It is estimated that some 50,000 North Koreans are working in 16 countries around the world.