BEIRUT: Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman said Wednesday his ministry’s inspectors shuttered 20 shops as part of its crackdown on undocumented foreign labor, after the one-month grace period he gave employers to apply for a work permit ended. “Our goal is to regulate foreign labor and grant work permits” in accordance with the law, in addition to “giving priority to Lebanese labor,” Abousleiman said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
The ministry dispatched inspectors accompanied by Internal Security Forces personnel from the early morning to nine areas, including Baabda’s Ghobeiri, Beirut’s Hamra, Kesrouan’s Jounieh, Zahle’s Barr Elias, Baalbeck’s Douris, Akkar’s Halba, Nabatieh’s Doueir, Sidon and Tripoli, Abousleiman said.
The inspectors raided 214 institutions, of which only 41 had legal status. The inspectors ordered the closure of 20, gave 129 violation notices and 24 warnings.
Some of the shops were given a period of eight to 10 hours to remove items that can go bad from their shops before closure. Some of the shops closed when they knew the inspectors were nearby. However, Abousleiman called on those shop owners to settle their legal status “instead of keeping their doors closed, which would cost them more money, and the inspectors will continue” with the campaign.
The minister launched a plan last month with 13 measures to combat unauthorized labor, giving workers and their employers a one-month grace period to apply for a permit. He has placed particular emphasis on the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon, of whom he said “hundreds of thousands are competing with Lebanese” for jobs.
Local broadcasters Wednesday showed Labor Ministry inspectors going inside shops in Ghobeiri and Hamra and giving violation notices to shops that employed people without work permits.
The ministry employees, who were seen accompanied by Internal Security Forces, Wednesday gave a shop in Ghobeiri that employed a Syrian worker without a permit eight hours before shuttering it.
“We will give him time to remove the wares from the shop. After eight hours, we will notify the prosecutor to have the shop closed [and sealed] with red wax,” a Labor Ministry employee said in televised remarks.
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