Contractor in Focus: STS Group
Qatar 2022 contractor STS Group has collaborated closely with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) to implement the Workers' Welfare Standards and ensure its 3,500 employees are protected every step of the way.
"We are a manpower supply company; our workers are our only assets. If you take care of their rights, everything else is taken care of," says Sebtain Nasser, Human Resources and Operations Director at STS Group, a family-owned business which was founded in 2004.
"Treat workers the way you want to be treated," says Nasser – a philosophy inherited from his father, and one which has helped the company implement and enhance welfare standards for its growing family of more than 3,500 workers across both SC and non-SC projects.
STS Group was appointed as a sub-contractor in 2017 to supply manpower for the Lusail, Al Bayt, Al Rayyan and Education City stadiums. It was recently recognised by the SC for taking the lead in ethical recruitment, underlining the robust recruitment process that the company has adopted to protect workers from unscrupulous recruitment agents.
Nasser said: "A lot of times, workers get approached by unregistered agents, even after they have been interviewed by us. They are tricked into paying recruitment fees as they fear losing out on the opportunity. All workers are given helpline numbers to contact us immediately, so that we can assure them of our zero-fees policy. This is why we also regularly interact with workers before they leave their home countries, to ensure they haven't paid anything from their own pockets."
STS Group launched its zero-fees policy in March 2018. Since then, more than 800 Indian and Bangladeshi workers have arrived in Qatar without paying recruitment fees. For those recruited prior to that, the company has committed to applying the SC's universal reimbursement scheme and repaying 790 workers in monthly instalments.
"Workers are always happy to earn extra money, especially money that they were not supposed to lose in the first place. It's always a good feeling to receive something unexpected," says Nasser.
STS Group also recognises the significance of establishing an open and frank dialogue with its workers to build an environment of trust and boost employee morale. Nasser works closely with the company's worker representatives, who are elected via the Workers' Welfare Forum – the SC's flagship grievance mechanism. Forums are held every month, as required under the standards.
"We also have a direct line of communication with all the representatives, plus a representative from each department," said Nasser. "When a worker raises a grievance, the representative can simply record it and share it within the wider group. The necessary department can immediately respond and resolve the matter. It's simple and quick."
With three years to go until the Middle East's first FIFA World Cup™, Nasser is hopeful the event will establish a legacy of enhanced working conditions across the country.
He added: "Workers would benefit greatly if the SC's Workers' Welfare Standards were adopted as the norm. A lot of organisations have welfare standards, but you need to ensure these best practices are enforced – just as they are by the SC."