Workers' Day 2017: Abolish Sponsorship
For the eighth year in a row, migrant domestic workers (MDWs) and supporters came together to claim labor rights, march, and celebrate workers' day. This past year did not witness any improvement of protection of migrant domestic workers. On the contrary, we have seen the abuses continue against the lives, rights and freedoms of MDWs, while the abusers still enjoyed impunity.
Tragedies and deaths still happen on daily and weekly basis without proper investigations, domestic workers and their families are still being unjustly deported and subjected to political detention, especially the public human rights defenders among them.
The struggle continues, and we unite again to make our voices heard and to claim our rights. We hereby demand the Lebanese state to:
1. Abolish the sponsorship system and replace it with a just immigration and residency system that guarantees human rights, fair and ethical recruitment, labor mobility, and the possibility of MDWs to live outside the employer’s house and change employers.
2. Ratify and implement the ILO Domestic Workers Convention of 2011 (C189).
3. Expand the Lebanese labor law to cover all categories of laborers including domestic workers.
4. Reform the standard unified contract to guarantee basic rights including the rights to get the Lebanese minimum wage, terminate the employment contract, have a maximum hours of work and be paid for overtime, the rights to privacy and decent working and living conditions, the right to have a weekly day off outside the house and unaccompanied by employers, and the right to have proper health insurance.
5. Hold abusive employers accountable and establish an inspection mechanism coupled with accessible and affordable complaint mechanisms, fair and speedy trials and legal redress.
6. Hold to account and close down all abusive and unethical recruitment agencies and establish a black-list system for these.
7. Guarantee the right of domestic workers to organize and unionize.
8. Investigate properly the deaths of MDWs, and in case of unnatural deaths, bring to justice those who caused these deaths.
9. Stop state violence against MDWs including detaining MDWs who leave their employers’ houses, exercising violence in detention centers and police stations, and depriving MDWs’ children of legal residency. Authorities must stop detaining and deporting MDWs for administrative or trivial reasons such as expired residency permits or having children in Lebanon who should all be entitled to residency and education rights in Lebanon. Authorities must also ensure speedy return procedures to home countries for workers who need it, especially for parents with children in Lebanon and workers who are sick.