A brawl reportedly broke out between construction workers and security guards at the Sheraton Doha hotel in Qatar on Wednesday.
Ambulances, fire trucks, and buses filled with riot police responded to the situation, which apparently began after the guards stopped workers who were trying to leave on a break. Minor injuries were reported, according to Doha News.
A video posted online shows a cluster of angry workers cheering as they take large sticks and hit one of the buildings on site.
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According to the workers, the security guards would not let them exit the line during lunch in order to get water or make a trip to the bathroom.
The workers said the guards hit them with steel rods and stones, but other witnesses accused the workers of throwing rocks and stones at the guards. Windows and scaffolding were allegedly damaged in the incident as well.
“At around 12PM we suddenly started hearing shouting. Everything just went crazy. The workers starting fighting and screaming. They started throwing rocks at the windows of our office and broke the door,” an architect at UrbaCon Contracting and Trading (UCC), the lead consulting company for the hotel's renovation project, told Doha News.
The UCC workers were reportedly trapped in their offices until transportation arrived so they could escape the scene.
There were conflicting reports as to what might have sparked the protest. Another UCC employee said the workers were protesting new hours of 6AM to 5PM that were put in place for the month of Ramadan. But others disputed these claims, saying they were not working new hours.
Renovations have been underway since March on the 32-year-old hotel known for its pyramid shape. The hotel has been closed for business during the duration of the project that is expected to be completed at the end of the year.
This is not the first labor related controversy for the Gulf country. A Guardian investigation found 44 Nepalese construction workers died of heart attacks, workplace incidents, and heart failure during a two-month period between June and August of 2013.
Citing poor working conditions, a report by the International Trade Union Confederation indicated 4,000 workers will die before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in 2022.
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