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Lebanon, women migrant domestic workers demand change on International Domestic Workers’ Day

June 15, 2013

Women migrant domestic workers in Lebanon celebrated International Domestic Workers’ Day with the Federation Nationale des Syndicats des Ouvriers et des Employés au Liban (FENASOL) and local nongovernmental organizations.   

Beirut (16/06/2013) – On 16 June 2011, the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization adopted the Convention concerning decent work for domestic workers which is also referred to as the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189). The Convention recognizes that domestic work is work and that domestic workers are, like other workers, entitled to decent work.  Women migrant domestic workers from various nationalities, and nongovernmental organizations convened in FENASOL on June 16, 2013 to celebrate the International Domestic Workers’ Day which commemorates the adoption of this groundbreaking Convention.  On this occasion, participating women migrant domestic workers produced the following demands:

We the migrant domestic workers in Lebanon demand our respective governments to: 

  • Offer pre-departure trainings that: Expose us to the methods of cleaning and cooking in Lebanon and to ways for operating complicated home appliances; Introduce us to basic words and expressions in the Lebanese dialect; and Raise our awareness to the working conditions in Lebanon
  • Establish a committee in embassies and consulates to receive and process our complaints irrespective of our immigration status
  • Lift deployment bans in order to increase our chances of finding employment abroad, especially in the light of our limited skills
  • Conclude agreements with Lebanon to limit recruitment to certified private employment agencies, and to establish end-of-service indemnity

We the migrant domestic workers in Lebanon demand the Lebanese Government to: 

  • Revert from leaving us in detention indeterminately without trial  and treat us humanely while there
  • Monitor how we are being treated by hospitals given the basic insurance coverage that does not extend to us adequate treatment  for major injuries or illnesses
  • Encourage its relevant agencies to inspect our workplaces and implement the laws and regulations that protect our rights
  • Prosecute those who physically and sexually assault us, demand compensation from them, and shame them in the various media outlets in order to deter others from abusing us
  • Ensure the right to free education and medical treatment to our children in Lebanon
  • Refrain from holding our children responsible for our immigration status
  • Condemn all forms of racial discrimination, by enforcing the decision of the Ministry of Tourism to give us equal access to all touristic sites in Lebanon, including beach resorts and restaurants

We the migrant domestic workers in Lebanon demand Lebanese Employers to: 

  • Respect our right to proper medical treatment, beyond the standard analgesic pill
  • Refrain from asking us to perform dangerous tasks, like cleaning the outside of windows in buildings and lifting heavy carpets
  • Restrict our working time to eight hours
  • Respect our right to a day off outside the house

We the migrant domestic workers in Lebanon demand private employment agencies to: 

  • Offer translation services in order to facilitate communication between us and the employment agencies and refrain from employing individuals who specialize in beating and terrorizing us
  • Refrain from withholding or earning any of our wages

We the migrant domestic workers in Lebanon commit to: 

  • Learning the basics of the Arabic language before travelling to Lebanon
  • Claiming higher wages that are commensurate with the work demanded from us
  • Recognizing and rejecting violence in all its forms (verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological)

Federation Nationale des Syndicats des Ouvriers et des Employés au Liban