Social workers to mediate between employers and migrant domestic workers in Lebanon

Ministry of Labour and the International Labour Organization discuss the job description of social workers who will counsel migrant domestic workers and employers during disputes.

News | 29 August 2013
BEIRUT (ILO News) – The Lebanese Ministry of Labour (MOL) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) held a workshop on Thursday (August 29) to discuss and validate draft job descriptions for the Ministry’s recently appointed social workers. The social workers have been tasked with counselling migrant domestic workers and employers during disputes, as well as inspecting cases of conflict.

The workshop — organized by the ILO as part of the European-Union funded project “Promoting Rights of Women Migrant Domestic Workers” (PROWD) — was attended by international experts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and public officials from various government bodies.

The social workers’ job description was drafted based on Ministerial Decree No. 7429 which recently appointed six social workers to intercede in the settlement of disputes between migrant domestic workers and employers.

The description defines the job of the social worker and links it to non-discrimination in providing services for workers in need so as to avoid concerns related to preferential treatment based on race, gender or other characteristics. It also covers the recruitment of social workers, their responsibilities, mandate, required qualifications, and elaborates on their tasks. In addition, the draft takes into account logistical support that may be required by social workers, including security concerns.

“MOL social workers job descriptions need to be defined promptly so they can start supporting migrant domestic workers facing daily conflicts with their employers” said Zeina Mohanna, Coordinator of the Migrant Domestic Workers Program at the Amel Association International, one of the NGOs that participated in the workshop.

Social workers and other participants also discussed opportunities to enhance the role of the labour ministry during disputes between migrant domestic workers and employers. Other MOL representatives shared their views on the draft and its various details. Notably, Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs social workers that attended the workshop gave their input based on previous experience in dealing with migrant domestic workers.

Workshop participants concluded that one of the main challenges MOL social workers will face would be the capacity to translate for migrant domestic workers during conflicts with employers. After incorporating the feedback of participants with the draft job description, the ILO will present a revised draft to the MOL for deliberation and adoption.

“Once the draft job description has been adopted by the Ministry of Labour, the ILO will provide social workers with comprehensive training in facilitating the resolution of labour disputes,” said Zeina Mezher, PROWD’s National Project Coordinator. “The Ministry of Labour’s decision to appoint and empower social workers to resolve disputes between migrant domestic workers and their employers is a welcome measure that should contribute to a more structured mechanism of conflict resolution.”

For more information please contact:
Rena Timsah, Communications Consultant
Promoting Rights of Women Domestic Workers (PROWD)
ILO Regional Office for Arab States
Telephone: +961 1 752400 (Ext 190)
Mobile: +961 3 480677
Aresco Center, Justinien Street, Beirut, Lebanon
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