Contentious Labour Agreement Moves to Standing Committee

Oct 23 , 2023


Parliamentarians greenlight the Ethiopian and Lebanon bilateral labour agreement treaty for further scrutiny by the Human Resource Development, Employment & Technology Affairs Standing Committee chaired by Negeri Lencho(PhD). The agreement was inked between the Labour ministers of the two countries, Muferihat Kamil of Ethiopia and Moustafa Bayram of Lebanon in April. The treaty received unanimous votes for supervision by the relevant standing committee, with some MPs lauding its capacity to decrease illegal migration. Meanwhile, Ethiopian workers in Lebanon are mainly employed as housemaids, with rights groups constantly pointing out labour rights infringements under the relentless Kafala system that holds their passports during their stay. While MPs did not mention their case, Afena Efa (PhD) indicated that the new treaty lacks a minimum wage stipulation, which could further subject Ethiopian workers to low pay unchartered of most bilateral labour agreements. "We've seen this before," Afena proclaimed. Another MP, Ayele Negeri, pointed out the importance of clearly defining the terms and conditions of living permits to expand the protection of workers despite the treaty stipulating the creation of a joint committee to oversee implementation. Parliamentarian Sadiq Adem quickly pointed out that there is no need for a joint committee if a functional embassy exists. Ethiopia does not have an Embassy in Lebanon but a council office to handle its diplomatic dealings.


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