File - The Labor Ministry building in Beirut, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: At the end of last week, on an otherwise insignificant Sunday, something momentous happened: Lebanon became home to the region's first domestic workers union.The move faces serious resistance from the Labor Ministry, which has called the union "illegal," but has also been hailed as a major step toward better protecting the rights of some quarter of a million migrants who are among the most vulnerable parts of Lebanese society. The launch of the union – made up of Lebanese and foreign members – on Jan. 25 saw about 350 domestic workers of various nationalities gather for its inaugural congress.The union has so far only elected its 12-member executive board, and must wait until this Sunday – the only day in the week domestic workers are usually given off – to hold elections for the president and other specific positions.Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi is in the process of promoting a draft law, based on ILO Convention 189, to the Cabinet that he says would better serve domestic workers' rights than a union.
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