Germany Records 189,166 COVID-19 Cases    Weather Forecast for Saturday    Dutch Driver Nyck de Vries Wins 1st Round of Diriyah Formula E-Prix 2022    Formula E one of key highlights in Diriyah calendar: Inzerillo    Morocco to reopen airspace from Feb. 7    UAE restores flights to five African countries    Share of e-payments reaches 57% in 2021, exceeding FSDP target    8 facts you need to know about Saudi Arabia's Founding Day    New COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia stay above 4,000-mark    A record 9 million need food assistance in northern Ethiopia    Arab Coalition: Saada prison was not targeted, facts will be provided    UNICEF providing aid for children caught up in Syria prison siege    Okaz tops Forbes list of most visited news outlets in MENA    Formula E racing champions at Diriyah Gate to kick off season opener    Saudi Arabia take step closer to World Cup 2022    Al-Attiyah leads after opening super special stage of Oman Rally    Crown Prince to attend 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony    Arab Parliament Condemns Bombing of Baghdad Airport As Threat to Stability of Iraq    UK Condemns Houthi Attack on UAE    Global stocks mixed    KSrelief Distributes 728 Winter Bags in Marib Governorate, Yemen    KSrelief Performs 104 Surgeries within Voluntary Medical Campaign to Combat Blindness in Chad    Secretary General of Palestinian National Commission for Education Praises Saudi Support for Palestinian Educational, Cultural and Scientific Sectors    Stellar speaker line-up at Leap conference in Riyadh    Tata Group takes over India's loss-making national carrier    Saudi Stock Exchange Main Index Ends Trading Lower at 12,179 Points    'Orange is the New Black' actress Kathryn Kates dead at 73    RCU launches direct flights from Paris to AlUla    Saudi Stock Market Index Ends High At 12,182 Points    Public Investment Fund Launches "Savvy Gaming Group"    Diriyah E-Prix 2-Time Champion Sam Bird Sets His Sight on More Triumph in 2022 Diriyah E-Prix    Royal Commission in Yanbu Achieves Arab Award for Operation and Maintenance    Sir Elton John postpones US shows after positive Covid-19 test    Bollywood's Shilpa Shetty cleared of obscenity over Richard Gere kiss    Taylor Swift slams Damon Albarn over songwriting comments    Omani National Football Team Arrives in Jeddah to Meet Saudi National Team    Eighth Season of ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to kick off in Diriyah    Riyadh's Qualitative Events Enrich its Winter, Attract World Attention    SFDA: Fat is a Source of Energy and Its Abundance is Linked to Chronic Diseases    Reflections on celebration of Christmas    Royal Commission for AlUla to Hold Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022, Richard Mille AlUla Desert Polo    Saudi Arabia's Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Organizes a Dance Theatrical Show for Children    Saudi Arabia rebuffs UN resolution on 'sexual orientation'    Kabir Khan eyes on joint Indian – Saudi film projects    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers in Arafat Holy Site    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Economic crisis may pave for end to Lebanon's sponsorship system
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 14 - 03 - 2020

REFORMS to Lebanon's "kafala" sponsorship system for importing migrant domestic workers from Africa and Asia have long been sought by advocates who say the current system is rife with human rights violations.
Over the past year, the reform efforts have found high-level support in the Labor Ministry. Now, with the country's economic crisis shrinking the purchasing power of Lebanon's lower and middle classes, some experts say the time is ripe for "dismantling" the system.
A coalition including human rights groups, government officials, migrant workers, and employers, as well as representatives of the embassies of the workers' countries, gathered this week in Beirut to discuss changes the Ministry of Labor is considering making to the standard work contract for foreign domestic workers, who currently number about 250,000 in Lebanon.
The new proposed contract aims to give the workers greater protections and could be a step toward more sweeping legislative changes that would give domestic workers the same legal rights as any other employees in the country.
"This will be quite a change in the way Lebanese employ domestic workers," Ryszard Cholewinski, senior migration specialist with the International Labour Organization (ILO), which has been coordinating a working group studying potential reforms, told Al Arabiya English. "It will not be a popular reform with everyone, but we also feel that in this time of crisis — not just economic but political — this is also an opportunity to put in place much needed reform."
While details of the new contract are still being negotiated, as currently proposed, it would address "what have been some of the most abusive elements around the kafala sponsorship system when it comes to domestic workers," Cholewinski said. For instance, the proposed contract explicitly forbids the common practices of employers confiscating workers' passports and not allowing them to leave the house on mandated one day off per week. The new contract also increases domestic workers' mandated annual leave from six days to 15.
And perhaps most important, it will include a clause allowing either the employee or the employer to terminate employment at a month's notice, which is "very much a step forward when it comes to...addressing issues around forced labor and trafficking," Cholewinski said. The exact conditions of termination are still being negotiated.
Under the current contract, workers only have the right to terminate the contract if they're not paid for three months, if the employer or a family member physically or sexually abused them and it's officially investigated and proven, or if the employer forces them to work a job that they weren't contracted to do.
At the request of former Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman in April of 2018, the ILO convened a working group to recommend measures that could be taken by the ministry to improve protections for migrant workers. While more sweeping changes — such as removing the language that exempts domestic workers from Lebanon's labor law – would require approval by Parliament, the Labor Minister can act administratively to change the standard contract.
The formation of the working group predated the mass protests that have swept across Lebanon since October and the country's ongoing economic crisis, but the crisis has added a new urgency to the matter.
As Human Rights Watch noted in a recent report, many domestic workers have reported that their salaries have been slashed or gone unpaid as their employers have lost their own jobs or received reduced payments.
Even those who are still receiving payment have seen the real value of their already-low wages decrease as Lebanon's currency has undergone a de facto devaluation. For instance, a worker who gets 300,000 Lebanese lira a month – the equivalent of $200 at the official exchange rate – now gets as little as $120 at the black-market rate.
Speaking at the meeting convened to discuss the proposed changes, Ghassan Dibeh, chair of the department of economics at the Lebanese American University said that the economic crisis is also likely to bring about a major decrease in demand for live-in domestic workers, given that many of the families who previously employed them are from the now-struggling middle and lower classes.
"I think the current economic crisis will bring about the end of the kafala system," Dibeh said. "Its origin is economic, and its end will be economic."
Indeed, Ali Amine, president of the Syndicate of Recruitment Agencies in Lebanon, told the group that the number of foreign domestic workers coming to Lebanon had dropped off steeply since 2018.
Current Labor Minister Lamia Yammine attended the opening session of this week's meeting on the proposed reforms, where she told the group that "Lebanon has been and will remain an active member in the international rights system" and is committed to protecting "the rights of all the workers on Lebanese soil, without discrimination." Yammine declined to be interviewed for this piece.
Some of the workers themselves said they are hopeful that real reforms may finally be made.
"Eleven years I've been working on this," said Malani Kandaarachige, a migrant worker from Sri Lanka who is one of the founders of the Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon. "We're tired."
Kandaarachige said she hopes the workers will be given meaningful input in the final contract.
"We want our voice as domestic workers, not for someone to give us something to read or somebody to handle us," she said. "We are the ones facing the problems."
Meriam Prado of the Philippines, also a founding member of the alliance, said it's the first time she has seen serious movement on reforms to the kafala system.
"There's a lot of discussion to do, but we're hoping for the best," she said. — Al Arabiya English


Clic here to read the story from its source.