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Western embassies call for a fair MWDW labor contract


On the occasion of the International Day of Migrant Domestic Workers which falls on June 16 of each year, the ambassadors of Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the UK delivered a mutual message via An Nahar daily saying it is an “opportunity to alleviate the anguish of migrant women domestic workers in Lebanon.” In its content, the letter said Lebanon is going through a financial and economic crisis which has hit all its citizens… It clearly presented the appalling living conditions of the MWDWs in the country more than ever, pointing to the reported evacuation process enforced by Covid-19 pandemic. “No one can overlook the plight of MWDWs who are stranded outside the embassies of their countries lacking any identification papers, nor can one ignore the number of workers who have lost their income and shelter and found themselves in the streets, helpless, facing utmost misery and despair and unable to leave the country.” The message also cited news about prevalent suicide incidents and abuse of migrant workers in Lebanon, focusing on the kafala (sponsorship) system. The latter, the message said, reduces the role of the state in regulating the sector, which leaves the fate of those workers completely to their employers. It revealed the formation of a committee of experts from the ILO and civil society organizations led by former and current labor ministers, that is seeking to develop feasible arrangements to eradicate aspects of abuse from the kafala system. The first of these recommendations suggests the revision of work contracts and adoption of a unified model which is in agreement with Lebanese laws and international standards, and protects the rights of MWDWs and employers. (An Nahar, June 16, 2020)

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