Labor ministry warns against replacing Lebanese with foreign (Syrian) workers

Lebanese Labour minister Sij'aan Qazzi,
Lebanese Labour minister Sij’aan Qazzi,

The Ministry of Labor warned companies on Monday  against firing Lebanese employees and replacing  them with foreign workers, in particular Syrians.

“Foreign workers  could only be used in sectors that require such categories and when foreign expertise is needed,” a statement issued by the ministry stressed, citing increasing complaints by Lebanese workers.

The ministry advised employers to “abide by the labor law or be subjected to administrative and judicial investigation, in addition to penalties.”

The statement also called on various institutions to  give  the employment of Lebanese people their top priority

A crisis cell was established at the ministry to supervise the implementation of the labor law

Last week, Labor Minister Sij’aan Qazzi sounded the alarm over the soaring unemployment rate in Lebanon.

He expressed fear over the impact of the Syrian workers on the Lebanese employment rate, noting that unemployment among Lebanese swelled since 2012 to reach a devastating 25 percent, where 36 percent of them are youth.

He pointed out currently there are around 346,000 unemployed Lebanese due to the competition from Syrian workers.

Lebanon has been facing an explosion of social, economic and political tension due to the soaring numbers of Syrian refugees in the country.

Around 170,000 Lebanese are living below the poverty line.

There are now around 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Lebanese border officials began informally restricting the entry of Syrians last October. Syrian workers are now supposed to have a Lebanese sponsor .