Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lebanon’s Domestic Workers Committee commemorates both Women’s and Mother’s days by demanding better working conditions

Migrant domestic workers in Lebanon call on the government to grant them their rights in line with international standards during a celebration of both Women’s and Mother’s days.

(ILO)

BEIRUT (ILO News) – The Domestic Workers Committee (DWC) at the National Federation of Employees and Workers in Lebanon (FENASOL) commemorated International Woman’s Day and Mothers’ Day by demanding better working and living conditions for migrant domestic workers (MDWs) on Sunday (March 23) at the UNESCO Palace in Beirut, Lebanon. The DWC is the first milestone reached towards the goal of collective migrant domestic workers’ organisation in Lebanon and the Middle East.

Gemma Justo, a founding member of the DWC from the Philippines, demanded the Government of Lebanon grant domestic workers their rights in accordance with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “We can be the key to changing perceptions about migrant domestic work in the whole region. We can also be the voice that speaks to our governments to implement programmes for migrant domestic workers before they leave their countries of origin,” said Justo who also advocated for domestic workers to be granted the right to organise and join unions in Lebanon.

With the support of the ILO, the event was organised by the DWC in order to empower the Committee to develop its capacity and eventually operate as an independent syndicate under FENASOL. The ILO also expressed its willingness to continue its efforts to protect the rights of domestic workers in Lebanon with the support of the Lebanon’s Ministry of Labour, and NGO’s as well as workers and employers.

“We will continue to work with our tripartite partners to improve the situation of migrant domestic workers and lobby for a regulatory environment that guarantees and promotes their rights,” said Frank Hagemann, the ILO’s Deputy Regional Director for the Arab States. “We hope that this support will soon contribute to the Domestic Workers Committee becoming a formal syndicate recognised by the Lebanese authorities.”

“I would like to salute every [female] migrant domestic worker residing in Lebanon working for a Lebanese family," said Mounir Al Deek, speaking on behalf Sejaan Azzi, Lebanon's Minister of Labour. "I have a major role to ensure her rights and protect her from any violation, which is why I will address the issues [raised] with officials at the Ministry of Labour,” said Al Deek.

Castro Abdullah, the Director of FENASOL, also called out for equal treatment of domestic workers in Lebanon emphasising their right to organise within trade unions.

ILO support for the DWC falls within the framework of “Promoting the Rights of Women Domestic Workers in Lebanon (PROWD),” a project funded by the European Union.

Lebanon has yet to ratify the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) and the ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Rights to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87).

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