Accessibility links

Breaking News

VOA Report: Qatari Company Fires Almost Half Its North Korean Workforce

Minutes of meeting between North Korean officials and officials of Qatar's Construction Development Company (with portions blocked out by VOA)

In a Voice of America exclusive, VOA’s Korean Service reports that a well-known construction company in Qatar has fired 90 North Korean laborers – nearly half the North Korean workers the company employs – for repeated violations of Qatar’s labor laws by the workers and inhumane treatment of the workers by their North Korean supervisors.

VOA Korean learned of the firings after obtaining the minutes of a meeting between North Korean officials and representatives of Qatar’s Construction Development Company (CDC). According to the minutes, a CDC official said that “Korean supervisors responsible for the well-being of their workers have been continuously forcing them to work more than 12 hours a day. The food provided to their workforce [was] below standards. Site health and safety procedures are ignored regularly.”

The minutes of the meeting were in a two-page document, dated on May 3, which has names and signatures of four North Korean officials who participated in the meeting.

VOA Korean reported that CDC had initially sought to dismiss all its North Korean workers, but later reduced the number to be fired at the request of North Korean officials. The remaining workers have been allowed to stay on the condition that they do not take part in any rule violations, including misbehavior at the working site and non-compliance with health and safety procedures.

News of the firings was broken by VOA Korean reporter Cho Eun Jung, who has filed many stories on the working conditions of North Korean laborers abroad, including in Qatar, where she travelled several months ago. Her latest report has been picked up by media outlets throughout South Korea.