The Lebanese Ministry of Labor announced Monday that it has developed a new plan to enforce laws against undocumented foreign workers, starting next week.
Minister of Labor Camille Abousleiman laid out the main points of the plan in a press conference on Monday, which will begin to be carried out starting on Monday, June 10th.
Based on the press conference, the plan consists of 13 new procedures to carry out laws surrounding the work of unauthorized individuals, which, as stated by the minister, has pressured Lebanese citizens to decide between "unemployment or migration." He primarily emphasized the effects of the influx of Syrian refugees who have been working without permits in Lebanon.
Minister Abousleiman stated that the latest numbers declared at the Ministry of Labor indicate that there are only about 1,733 legal Syrian workers, which is a "drop in the ocean" compared to the real number of working Syrians.
According to the new policies, employers will have a month as of June 10th to obtain permits for any undocumented workers. Otherwise, they will be faced with a fine of 5 million LBP, or $3,300, for any illegal hires. Parties have been designated by the Ministry to carry out inspections to ensure that no undocumented workers are hired, and Abousleiman added that they will be following up on said inspections.
Moreover, the plan entails shutting down any shops that are run by non-Lebanese nationals who have not obtained a permit to operate a business in Lebanon. In order for non-Lebanese to own and operate in the country, they not only need a permit, but they also need to hire a 75 percent Lebanese staff, as well as provide proof of a start-up capital of 100 million LBP ($66,000).
Abousleiman has rejected the notion that these new measures have any racist implications, and that, on the contrary, will "safeguard the rights of foreign workers." Logically, in our opinion, that will primarily protect the rights of Lebanese citizens to secure work in their own country.
"Our priority is to provide jobs for the Lebanese workers," Abousleiman said Monday via Asharq Al-Awsat. "There are workers who violate Lebanese law and work illegally, and they are considered an illegal competitor to the Lebanese labor force in many sectors where they are not allowed to hold jobs."
This new enforcement by the Ministry of Labor was preceded last week by new measures from the Economy Ministry to crack down on Syrian-run shops in areas like Zouk Mosbeh in Kessrwan, where security forces entered businesses and demanded to see documentation permitting business ownership and/or work.