Líbano - The trade union of domestic workers is not recognised by the Ministry of Labour

On 25 January 2015, six Lebanese workers submitted a request to the Labour Ministry to form a union for domestic workers, who are currently excluded from the protection of the Lebanese labour code. The proposed union would include domestic workers and others who provide care in homes for the elderly and those with disabilities, those who provide cleaning services in homes and offices, and some other similar categories.

On 25 January 2015, with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and the Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees (FENASOL) in Lebanon, approximately 350 domestic workers of various nationalities gathered for the union’s founding congress. But union members said they had received no response to their request, and the Labour Minister Sejaan Azzi denounced the union as illegal, media reports said.

The 1946 Lebanese Labour Code specifically excludes domestic workers, both Lebanese and migrants, denying them protections afforded other workers. Families in Lebanon employ an estimated 250,000 migrant domestic workers, primarily from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Nepal. Under article 92 of the Labour Code, all foreign workers are also explicitly denied the right to elect or be elected as representatives of a union.
As a result, thousands of workers have been denied the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and there are inadequate legal safeguards for migrant workers and some Lebanese labourers, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
The most common complaints documented by the embassies of labour-sending countries and nongovernmental groups include mistreatment by recruiters, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, forced confinement to the workplace, a refusal to provide any time off, forced labour, and verbal and physical abuse. Despite repeated public announcements by Lebanese officials that they would improve conditions for migrant domestic workers, reforms have been insignificant.

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