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Lebanon: Domestic workers create the first union in the Middle East

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by Meredith McBride published Jan 10, 2015 12:50 AM
The middle east is home to 2.4 million domestic worked. For the first time in the middle east, domestic workers have created a trade union to collectively fight for better rights

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The National Federation of Labor Unions petitioned the Labor Ministry to form the union uniting domestic workers in Lebanon. The workers primarily come from Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.

The Lebanese labor code forbids domestic workers from forming a union, however the women are able to join a new housekeeper's union, as long as it has some Lebanese members.

Many domestic workers in the middle east blame the kafala, or sponsorship system, for their poor working and living conditions. Kafala requires the workers to have a sponsor, typically their employers, who control their passports and dictate their legal status. Without permission from their employers, women under the kafala system cannot quit their jobs or leave the country.

More from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/01/02/world/middleeast/ap-ml-lebanon-domestic-workers.html?_r=0

More from Al Jazeera:  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/1/2/lebanese-domesticworkersorganizetoreformlaborcode.html

Source: Al Jazeera

Story Type: News

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