Minimum Wage in Lebanon

Considering the current devaluation of the Lebanese pound, the Syrian workers in Lebanon earn less than their Lebanese counterparts, there are several reasons for an increase in the Minimum Wage in the country. In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges that face efforts to create a fair working environment for all workers in Lebanon. We will also discuss some reasons why an increase in the Minimum Wage in Lebanon is important.

Lebanese pound devaluation

The recent devaluation of the Lebanese pound and the minimum wage in Lebanon are troubling signs of the country’s financial crisis. The country is heavily dependent on tourism, banking, and remittances from the diaspora to support its economy. Devaluation has hit these industries hard, and the government has had to resort to Band-Aid measures in order to curry favor with angry voters. However, meaningful reforms are needed now. The financial crisis has been festering for two years, and it is only likely to get worse by the next election in 2022. While the central bank boosted the exchange rate for Lebanese pounds in dollar savings accounts, this still represents a massive haircut against the current market value of the Lebanese currency.

Inflation has risen significantly, and families are spending five times the minimum wage on food. As a result, the Lebanese pound has depreciated nearly ninety percent against the dollar in the black market. The result is that the minimum wage in Lebanon today is worth about 30 percent less than it was in the 1850s. This situation has left more than half of the population living below the poverty line.

The devaluation of the Lebanese pound is a direct result of a lack of economic reform and currency stability. The government has halted dollar withdrawals and set other rates for specific transactions, making it difficult for the average Lebanese citizen to get by on their salaries. With a volatile exchange rate, businesses have a difficult time pricing their products in accordance with the pound’s value.

The country’s economy is experiencing numerous crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic that sent 1.5 million refugees across the border to the collapse of a Ponzi scheme, to the COVID-19 pandemic that weakened the Lebanese lira. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s government has failed to implement an effective economic reform plan, which is crucial in getting billions of dollars in desperately needed international financial aid and IMF bailout funds. While the country is still largely bankrupt, the financial sector has lost nearly a third of its GDP, and the government estimates losses of $68bn or more in the financial sector.

Syrian workers earn less than Lebanese workers

The ILO report on the economic situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to the crisis. A comprehensive approach should focus on addressing pre-existing labor market challenges in Lebanon while balancing humanitarian assistance and the needs of the host community. The key areas for action should be establishing decent work opportunities, regulating informal labor, promoting safe and healthy working environments, and encouraging sustainable enterprise development.

The Central Administration for Statistics estimates that nearly ninety percent of work in Lebanon is informal, including agricultural and construction sectors with a large proportion of Syrian refugee workers. Overall, 82% of the poorest quintile of the Lebanese population is employed in informal work, and this is the primary driver of inequality and poverty in Lebanon. However, this situation may not last for long. Lebanese workers, meanwhile, are increasingly concerned about the deterioration of the local economy.

The Syrian refugee population has different characteristics in Lebanon and Jordan. They are often displaced and turn to informal work due to the lack of formal jobs. Restrictive policies on the entry of Syrians into the formal labor market will reinforce informality and negatively impact the welfare of workers and public finances. Further, the minimum wage in Syria is less than that of Lebanese workers. As a result, the Syrian population is increasingly being dispersed.

Prior to the crisis, Syrians in Lebanon could enter the country without a visa and receive a six-month residency permit at the border. However, before the crisis, not many of these workers had work permits. The Lebanese government tended to ignore this requirement and made special procedures for Syrian seasonal workers. This allowed them to work without going through the usual work permit process. However, since these workers are not allowed to stay in Lebanon permanently, obtaining a work permit for those months when they are in the country is essential to the success of their project.

Furthermore, the participation rate of Syrians in Lebanon may have decreased as a result of the recent pledge not to work. This was introduced to help Syrian refugees to get an education, but it also undermined worker power and trust in public institutions. This is particularly true for non-Lebanese workers. And this is not the only reason why Syrian workers are earning less than Lebanese workers.

Challenges to establishing a decent work environment for all workers in Lebanon

There are major challenges to establishing a decent work environment for workers in Lebanon, including gaps in the legal framework that lead to contradictions and little enforcement of working conditions and social protection mechanisms. Moreover, discrimination based on gender and national origin is entrenched, and there is a general lack of awareness about workers’ rights. This is compounded by the fact that women earn significantly less than men.

Changes in the legal framework are critical, but they will require political will and advocacy. Donors should work with the government to improve the legal framework and enforcement mechanisms and support efforts to incorporate disincentives and incentives for worker protection in all programs. Donors should support civil society, which plays a critical role in watching over workers and referring cases. It should also work with the government to create a formal mechanism that would enable civil society to share information about violations of workers’ rights.

Until recently, Syrian refugees were free to move between occupations and sectors in Lebanon, with a right to return home if necessary. Today, nearly all of the Syrians in Lebanon are refugees and lack valid residence permits, making it difficult to return home safely. In addition, the government has now de facto-regulated their economic activities and their right to work. It also regulated the sectors in which Syrians can work.

Refugees, whose jobs were often poorly protected in the past, are being exploited because of their origins. The agricultural sector in Lebanon has become particularly reliant on Syrian labor. Between twenty-four percent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon work in this sector, and Lebanese employers often find Syrian workers willing to work for low wages. Meanwhile, Lebanon also hosts more than 200,000 migrant workers from Asia and Africa.

Occupational health is an increasing challenge in working life, especially for vulnerable groups and the aged. Migrant workers have specific health needs that must be met to promote their workability. Providing a safe, healthy, and decent work environment, reasonable working hours, and a healthy environment are essential steps toward promoting workers’ ability to perform their job. So, what can be done to improve the conditions of working?

Reasons to increase the minimum wage in Lebanon

The country’s minimum wage was increased three years ago, from 500,000 L.B. to 675,000 L.B. But some people in Lebanon believe that the wage is still too low and should be increased drastically. In fact, many people are struggling to make ends meet on $450 a month, and a large increase could worsen the economy. Why, then, should Lebanon increase its minimum wage? Consider the following factors.

Fuel shortages. Lebanon is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis. In August 2021, the government raised gas prices by 66%. Fuel costs are out of control, making it impossible for low-income independent contractors to work. In this environment, the primary breadwinners of many families are forced to stop working and the working class in Lebanon goes into even deeper poverty. The minimum wage increase will have a direct and negative effect on the economy.

Inequality. Despite the high minimum wage, many people still live below the poverty line. While the government is slowly ending subsidies for key imported goods, prices are increasing in every sector of the economy. If the government does not act soon, Lebanon is destined to face a calamitous fate. The country’s economy is already in trouble, with more than half of its population living below the poverty line. Therefore, the international community must prioritize the economic well-being of the Lebanese population.

Another reason for an increase in the minimum wage is to address inflation. In the past, wages have remained stagnant despite several government measures. The wage increase was not enough to cover the rising cost of living in Lebanon, and the National Social Security Fund would have suffered. In addition, the GCLW’s position was weakened by the war, as the leader of the Amal Movement participated in negotiations with the government.

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