Friday, 2 May 2008

Palestinians—May Day

The UN news agency reports:

Several hundred Palestinians protested at the edge of Shatila camp in south Beirut on 30 April ahead of the 1 May labour day holiday, traditionally a time for workers’ to air their grievances.

"We are humans, we have the right to live," shouted the protesters. "We are half humans in Lebanon."

With inflation in double digits and the cost of living rising, the government has proposed raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, but Palestinians say they continue to be marginalised in the labour market.

The rise in the minimum monthly wage from US$200 to $300 is the first increase in a decade, but local researchers InfoPro estimate that only 10 percent of Lebanon's 650,000 wage earners take home the minimum wage or less.

Half a million Lebanese are self-employed and would not benefit from the wage increase, while Palestinians do not qualify as they are considered refugees, not citizens.

Lebanese salaries average $500, while the actual minimum wage is around $320. Citizens' wages are further supplemented by a de-facto government set of subsidies estimated at $150 a month, through price controls on electricity, gas, fuel and wheat.

Picture: This Palestinian refugee family of 12 live in a house with two rooms only. © Salma Zulfiqar/IRIN

No comments: