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Workers, private electricity firms wrangle over contract terms

The headquarters of Electricite Du Liban in Beirut, Lebanon. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Representatives of part-time workers at Electricite du Liban and the private service providers failed to reach a settlement Tuesday over employment contract terms.

“The talks aimed at resolving the issue were not successful after part-time workers refused to sign the contracts being offered by the service providers,” the National News Agency reported.

Head of the General Labor Confederation Ghassan Ghosn opposed a three-month probation period clause during a meeting with lawyers representing three services providers.

“We discussed [the need] that these contracts become compatible with the labor law and National Social Security Fund regulations ... But until now things remain the same and we await solutions and final responses from the three companies,” Ghosn said.

In a news conference Tuesday, Ghosn said the proposed work contracts undermined the political settlement that ended a 95-day strike.

“We fear the three-month trial period would end with [many] workers being laid off,” he said, adding that the service providers have asked for additional time to discuss the issue.

Service providers issued a joint statement saying they continue to receive part-time workers and bill collectors who wish “to receive their [delayed] salaries and sign contracts.”

“The contracts that we are offering are fully legal and offer permanent employment. They fully comply with the labor law and offer all legal benefits, including NSSF [enrollment] from day one,” the statement said.

The service providers rejected the involvement of the Labor Ministry in drafting the contracts.

The statement said the service providers project “is one final chance” to up shore electricity distribution in Lebanon. It added that the project would save the treasury up to $350 million annually.

“We should have been met with encouragement and support, not obstacles and impediments,” the statement said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 08, 2012, on page 5.

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