Friday, June 12, 2015

Lebanese Guest Workers Organize

I don't know much about Lebanon, but apparently it has the same restrictive guest worker system as the Gulf states. They have formed a union to work for improved conditions:
But inside (the Migrant Community Center), walls are plastered with fliers about upcoming educational events for migrant workers, and "Know Your Rights" pamphlets are liberally displayed. Recently, the centre has become a meeting space for the Domestic Workers Union, a fledgling organisation that is the first of its kind in the Middle East.
Founded in January, the union - intended as a voice for Lebanon's approximately 250,000 migrant domestic workers, who comprise about five percent of the country's population - made its first public appearance in early May, with a march in downtown Beirut to commemorate International Labour Day. Members used the event to call upon Lebanon's labour ministry to formally recognise the union...
The Domestic Workers Union has a number of demands, including a minimum wage and a maximum number of work hours per week. The union is also calling for an end to the kafala system, under which employers can prevent workers from changing jobs or leaving the country...
But the labour ministry has still not formally recognised the union. Lebanese Labour Minister Sejaan Azzi threatened to have security forces disrupt the union's founding congress, and in a statement to the media shortly after the congress, he deemed the union "illegal".

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