The Global State of Workers' Rights - Lebanon
|Publication Date||31 August 2010|
|Cite as||Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Lebanon, 31 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d4fc7f927.html [accessed 13 October 2015]|
Lebanese workers have the right to unionize and to strike. Labor laws require that the number of strike participants be declared in advance, and that 5 percent of union members be responsible for their comrades' orderly conduct during the strike. Organizers legally accept responsibility for damages that occur during labor demonstrations.
There are over 160 unions in Lebanon, and 22 of them are grouped in the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers. Unions may engage in collective-bargaining processes with the support of 60 percent of the membership. Because of high unemployment and the minor importance of heavy industry to the Lebanese economy, organized labor does not have a large presence in the country. The Ministry of Labor is required to approve the establishment of new unions and controls union elections. Labor laws do not currently offer sufficient protection for workers who belong to unions.
Lebanese labor laws exclude public-sector employees, some agricultural workers, and household workers. They also exclude non-Lebanese from most professional occupations, such as medicine, law, pharmacy, accounting, and engineering. In order to practice these professions, foreigners must obtain permission from the Ministry of Labor and then pay annual membership fees to the appropriate professional syndicate. Annual dues range between $600 and $1,100. In practice, these regulations disproportionately affect Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Foreign household workers often face difficult working conditions and lack the legal authority to pursue their rights. Reports of suicides among these workers are common. In 2009, the Ministry of Labor introduced a uniform contract for household workers that guarantees weekly time off, paid sick days, and maximum hours.
Legal protections for workers are often ignored in practice. While unions are nominally independent and legally prohibited from engaging in political activity, most unions are linked to one of Lebanon's political parties or movements.