Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), the global trade union for construction workers, has hit out at Fifa for not taking further action to ensure better working conditions at World Cup stadiums in Russia.
According to ESPN FC, the organisation accused football’s global governing body of being “unwilling to take on the stadium construction companies and tell them what to do,” due to the “political climate and sensibilities” in the country.
Russia will host Fifa’s showpiece World Cup national team tournament next year and is currently staging the Fifa Confederations Cup, which traditionally serves as a preview event for the main competition.
Ambet Yuson, the general secretary of the BWI, said: “The World Cup stadium inspection system is failing because our recommendations are being ignored.
“The Russian construction companies are not listening to us, and neither Fifa nor the Russian World Cup organising committee do anything about it.”
Yuson said the BWI passed on its recommendations to the Klinsky Institute, a Russian firm that specialises in labour protection and working conditions, appointed by Fifa to oversee work at the venues.
However, a BWI report found that 17 people have died during the construction of stadiums and Yuson has now called for Fifa to take action.
“No sanctions have been imposed on any construction companies for not fulfilling our recommendations. Sometimes our recommendations are watered down,” Yuson told ESPN FC. “Monitoring is good, but it has no value if it’s not accompanied by change and penalties.
“We are concerned that more will die as we approach stadium completion deadlines with the tournament less than a year away. That is why Fifa has to start taking action. The same problems are recurring, and it is the workers who are paying the price.”
In response, Fifa said: “Fifa does not share the positions voiced by Mr. Yuson. Based on the results of the 58 monitoring visits carried out since April 2016, Fifa has clear evidence that the monitoring system leads to significantly improved labour conditions on the stadium construction sites.
“The average number of inconsistencies and incompliances found per monitoring visit has been reduced by 72 percent during the first year of the system’s implementation. Moreover, we find that companies take great strides to address the issues found during our inspections.”
Image: Павел Протченко