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Qabbani: EDL contract workers should practice self-restraint

Future Movement MP Mohammad Qabbani speaks during a press conference at the Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: MP Mohammad Qabbani called on contract workers with Electricite Du Liban to practice self-restraint when dealing with permanent staff at the state-run company during their sit-in. “We ask the workers not to harm permanent employees at Electricite Du Liban,” Qabbani said in a statement. “They are not responsible for the performance of the energy minister and his project, including the service providers, who caused this crisis to explode.”

In April, EDL contract workers began striking to demand full-time employment. Following over two months of protest they returned to work, but resumed their demonstrations in July over unpaid wages.

Parliament has endorsed a bill to employ the contract workers full-time at EDL, but the draft legislation is awaiting the approval of Parliament’s Secretariat, which postponed its meeting on the topic to Thursday.

Christian parties argue that employing contract workers within the state-run company without a proper regulatory mechanisms would cause sectarian imbalance in the public sector.

EDL said earlier this week that legal issues were behind its refusal to pay contract workers their June salaries.

Workers vowed to escalate their actions Monday, with reports indicating that the protesters would shut down the company’s headquarters and block roads near the building, as well as those leading to the Energy Ministry.

Qabbani said that the demands of the workers were just and that he has supported their case from the beginning.

“It is important not to fall into the trap of creating a conflict and clash between contract workers and permanent ones,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 09, 2012, on page 5.

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