Lebanon: After a week-long strike, waste sector migrant workers reach a deal with RAMCO; incl.co. comments

With the value of the Lebanese currency falling rapidly, hundreds of migrant workers mainly from Bangladesh and India have been protesting at RAMCO Waste Management in Beirut against cuts to their wages. The workers demanded that their wages be paid in US Dollars as per their contracts or by Lebanese Lira (LL) according to the black market exchange rate of 4200 LL. The company has been paying wages in Lebanese Lira since November 2019 based on the official rate exchange of 1500 LL to the US Dollar which has negatively affected the level of remittances that workers usually send home to their families. 

The strike was forcibly suppressed by police using tear gas and sticks. It has been reported that the police arrested one of the workers during the strike and that he still remains in custody. The Director of RAMCO told Al Jazeera that "While it is clear that the company is violating its contracts with its workers, it cannot pay them in dollars or at the prevailing market rate because the Lebanese state - its biggest customer -  started paying for the company's services in Lebanese pounds at the official exchange rate". 

RAMCO has reached an agreement with the migrant workers to end the strike after having agreed to temporarily increase their wages.

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Article
20 May 2020

Lebanon's RAMCO reaches agreement with migrant workers after strike

Author: Adam Chamseddine, Middle East Eye

Lebanese waste management company RAMCO has reached a temporary agreement with hundreds of migrant workers to slightly increase their salaries after a weeks-long strike against a cut in their wages, the Bangladeshi embassy in Beirut has said.

Around 400 foreign workers, mostly from Bangladesh and India, took a stand against RAMCO more than a month ago after the company began slashing their wages and paying them in the local Lebanese currency rather than US dollars.

Since Lebanon's unprecedented financial crisis late last year, the Lebanese pound has lost a staggering 60 percent of its value.

Article
19 May 2020

"Long marginalised, migrant workers in Lebanon strike over pay"

Author: Timour Azhari, Aljazeera

Rafi, a migrant worker in Lebanon's waste sector, has a wife and two young daughters back home in Bangladesh who depend on his monthly remittances to pay for school, food and other needs.

But for the past five months, Rafi says he has been unable to send any money back home, because the private waste-management company for which he works, RAMCO, violated his work contract by effectively slashing his wages from $300 a month to just over $100.

"It's a very big problem, I cant send my baby to school," said Rafi, who asked Al Jazeera to refer to him by a pseudonym because he fears retribution.

Rafi is not alone in his hardships, or his anger. Faced with a similarly untenable position, some 400 RAMCO employees - mostly from Bangladesh and India - took the unprecedented decision last month to walk of the job until the company pays them what they are owed.

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