VINCI denies the accusations made about working conditions on its work sites in Qatar, and will continue to cooperate with the courts
7. 11. 2022 - 09:00 - Events - Qatar
The VINCI Group confirms that its subsidiary VINCI Construction Grands Projets has been summoned by the Nanterre investigating judge on 9 November to answer charges relating to a complaint dating back to 2015. Since 2015, VINCI has vigorously denied the allegations made against it concerning its projects in Qatar conducted by the company QDVC, in which VINCI Construction Grands Projets has a 49% stake. VINCI reiterates that a first complaint filed in 2015 was dismissed in January 2018.
Contrary to certain allegations made, none of the projects awarded to QDVC has any connection with the 2022 Football World Cup in Qatar. In fact, these projects were entrusted to QDVC before the competition was awarded to Qatar and mainly relate to transport infrastructures. VINCI did not sign any contract with the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and has not built any stadium or hotel in Qatar.
Since 2015 in France, the Group has cooperated with the judicial authorities by providing the most detailed information possible on its activities in Qatar. Throughout the intervening period, however, it has had no access either to the complaint or to the investigation file. In that respect, VINCI considers it extremely regrettable that despite the proceedings having commenced seven years ago, its subsidiary should face charges just before the start of the Football World Cup in Qatar. This highly-charged period of media attention might be rather unfavourable in terms of a dispassionate consideration of the facts. However, VINCI will continue to cooperate with the courts, with the objective to show that the allegations made against the Group are unfair.
VINCI stays consistent with its long-standing commitment to respect human rights and seek to improve the living and working conditions of all workers at its construction sites, all around the world. The Group has demonstrated on many occasions and with concrete actions, to trade unions, associations, university fellows, journalists and investors, including on the ground in Doha, that respect for human rights and health and safety at work have been a priority for its staff since QDVC was formed in 2007. QDVC’s statistics in terms of safety are at least as good as the ones in Europe for the Group’s construction activity, including subcontractors (a more complete description of QDVC’s health and safety policy and record, is available at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website).
Conscious of the complexity of the issues associated with Qatar, VINCI works in close collaboration with independent international organisations to prevent the risks of human rights abuses, and has been proactive in putting effective mechanisms in place to prevent breaches of workers’ rights and to promote and improve migrant workers’ living and working conditions. Details of these concrete actions can be seen on the Group’s website: VINCI in Qatar - Media [VINCI].
In 2014, the Group entered into a long-term commitment with the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), which resulted in two on-site inspections in Doha, in 2015 and 2017. VINCI and QDVC have also regularly appointed outside third parties to audit them: first, in 2011, there was VIGEO, and then in 2015, a human rights impact study was carried out by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). The final report concluded that “in a very challenging operating environment, QDVC has demonstrated a good level of performance that positively contributes to mitigating the risks of negative impacts on the human rights of employees and of subcontractors”.
This practice of third-party audits continued in the context of an international agreement signed with the BWI at the end of 2017. That agreement includes a verification system involving monitoring, inspections, audits, release of reporting and control in various areas, such as recruitment, conditions of employment and accommodation, health and safety, worker representation, and supervision of subcontractors. The first audit of QDVC’s sites and operations in Qatar was carried out in January 2019, and a second was carried out in October 2021. Both of these public audit reports highlight the best practices followed by QDVC, the latest report also showing the level of satisfaction among QDVC workers, whose average length of service was almost 7 years in 2021 (Read the BWI report).
Since it was formed, QDVC has recruited more than 11,000 employees, and, including partners joint-contractors and subcontractors, the company’s projects have involved more than 240,000 employees. In a comprehensive study by New York University in 2017, QDVC’s ethical recruitment practices were recognised as representing “the most responsible practice currently existing in the industry in Qatar” (Read the report). Those efforts have continued in the context of a partnership with the local office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to develop a migration corridor between Qatar and Bangladesh, with no recruitment fees for workers (Read the ILO report). At the same time, QDVC has developed workers’ representation mechanisms, and was the first Qatari company to organise free elections of migrant workers’ representatives.