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New contract for women migrant workers falls short of scraping kafala

15-9-2020

The caretaker ministry of labor on September 8 released the standard unified contract for migrant domestic workers (https://bit.ly/33sOK6a), and described it as a move towards abolishing the abusive sponsorship (Kafala) system. The new contract reportedly includes the following amendments, like, specifying the MWDW’s minimum wage (LBP 675,000); limiting labor to 8 hours a day; giving the live-in domestic worker the rights to keep her passport, change her employer or resign, the right to privacy and the right to terminate the contract under certain circumstances or conditions. Commenting on the new labor contract, the Saudi-based Arab News spoke on September 13 with a number of human rights campaigners who maintained that while the new contract is a step forward, yet it does not abolish the kafala system. Similarly, Amnesty International researcher, Diala Haidar, said it is a better version than the old one, but criticized the absence of an enforcement mechanism. Zeina Mezer of ILO considered the unified contract as one step in the right direction towards dismantling kafala, yet is not enough without executive security measures to support the efforts the labor ministry. In the same regard, Mail & Guardian website published a feature on the situation of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, mentioning the sit-ins staged by namely Ethiopian and Kenyan MWDWs in front of their embassies to facilitate their repatriation. Recalling, that the dollar shortage crisis in the country has negatively impacted migrant workers as employers can no longer pay their salaries, which resulted in a number of them being deported, forsaken or becoming homeless. (Arab News, Mail & Guardian, September 13, 2020)

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