Wednesday, 30 April 2008

May Day—domestic labour

AFP reports:
Lebanese employers, recruitment agencies and authorities must improve the treatment of domestic workers, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

"On the eve of Lebanese Labour Day, we would like to highlight a huge segment of labourers who are not recognized as such. They are domestic workers, almost a 100 percent of whom are foreigners," Human Rights Watch's Beirut-based researcher Nadim Houry told AFP.

The group says the most common complaints from domestic staff, who are mostly women, are unpaid wages, lack of time off, restrictions on movement and verbal or sometimes even physical abuse.

Around 200,000 domestic labourers, mostly from Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Ethiopia, are not protected by Lebanese labour laws, HRW said.

A statement from the organisation cited a 2006 survey of 600 migrant workers by Dr Ray Jureidini which found 56 percent reported they worked more than 12 hours a day and 34 percent had no regular time off.

Some workers have died attempting to escape from their working conditions, the statement said, some of them jumping from balconies.

"The Lebanese authorities have an obligation to ensure that these women are protected by law," Houry said adding that the campaign, named "Put Yourself in Her Shoes," is targeting employers and employment firms.

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