“You have just to do your work and suffer alone”

USM Qatar provided staff to the Netherlands and United States World Cup team hotels, as well as a hotel accommodating Fifa personnel during the tournament. Workers tell of rampant labour abuses at the company.

By Sam Kunti

“I was seeing my death coming,” recalls Anthony* from Kenya. 

“Our driver was trying to brake, but the bus just continued moving. Down over there, the slope. Then we go down, hit that water. You have to be scared, this one is [your] death, yeah?”

It was simply supposed to be another work day for Anthony in Qatar. He woke up at 6 am and got dressed. He didn’t need to wipe up a basic breakfast in the overcrowded and dirty kitchen of his accommodation, a home and sleeping quarters for hundreds of workers. That’d be provided at his workstation, a hotel. On the way to work, Anthony would see Lusail and its skyline. 

But this morning was different. At a roundabout, the white bus with tinted windows that had picked up Anthony and his co-workers collided with an SUV.  

The bus slid toward a small basin and Anthony was contemplating his own mortality. With the bus’s nose in the water, some workers escaped through the front door, clambering up the side of the basin. Phones, wallets, and other personal belongings lay scattered on the ground. Shaken and shocked, one worker sat with his head covered in blood. Another took off his pants. 

Out of a bus window, Anthony jumped to safety. A man lay in the shallow water, and a fellow worker crawled down to help him. Others had to be airlifte...

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