Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lebanon’s long march toward migrant worker rights

Migrant domestic workers exist at the mercy of the kafala system - in which they are sponsored by, and beholden to, their Lebanese employers, and are explicitly excluded from Lebanese labour laws

On Middle East Eye

On Sunday, 3 May, a Workers’ Day parade and festival were held here in Beirut. The events were led by the newly inaugurated Domestic Workers’ Union that seeks, among other things, to represent the interests of more than a quarter of a million female migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. The union’s formation earlier this year was rejected by the Lebanese Labour Ministry.

The ostensible reason for holding the celebration on a Sunday rather than on 1 May, International Workers’ Day, was to maximise the number of participants. The problem, however, is that many household employees in Lebanon don’t get a single day off - hence the utility of a union dedicated to fighting for this and other rights.

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