The Lebanese government has faced a wave of criticism with the closure of shops and institutions operated by Syrians, who do not hold work permits or identity documents that allow them to work on Lebanese territory.
The Ministry of Labor stressed that it was implementing the regulations stipulated in the Labor Law pertaining to foreign workers.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Labor Minister Kamil Abu Sleiman denied claims that the recent measures were a form of pressure on the Syrians to force them to return to their homeland, noting that steps taken by his ministry were not targeted at a specific nationality, but were only aimed at implementing the law.
Abu Sleiman stressed that the laws were not new, but in the past “the law was not executed in practice and what is happening is that we are applying it.”
According to the minister, the new steps are also a means to push Lebanese employers to regulate their legal status and obtain work permits for foreign workers, Syrians and non-Syrians, who are allowed to work in Lebanon as per the laws in force.
Abu Sleiman is set to hold a press conference on Monday to launch the ministry’s plan to combat illegal foreign labor on Lebanese territory.
In this regard, he told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Our priority is to provide jobs for the Lebanese workers. There are workers, who violate Lebanese law and work illegally, and they are considered an illegal competitor to the Lebanese labor force in many sectors where they are not allowed to hold jobs.”
Last week, the municipality of Zouk Mosbeh in Keserouan decided to close all the shops owned and operated by Syrians “in implementation of the decrees and circulars issued by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labor.”
This was preceded by a campaign in the Iqlim al-Kharoub region to close shops and workshops operated by Syrians who do not hold legal permits.