EDL part-timers withholding over $675,000 from payments

Energy ministry building in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. (Mahmoud Kheir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Electricite du Liban’s part-time bill collectors are withholding at least $675,000 in cash from collected electricity bills, An-Nahar newspaper reported Friday as security forces vowed to step up security at the state-run company’s headquarters.

According to the newspaper, EDL payment schedules show collectors in the Beirut and Shiyyah area departments are alone retaining the $675,000 sum.

The figure would be higher if bills retained at other EDL departments, across the country were included.

Meanwhile, Lebanese security forces took precautionary measures around the EDL headquarters in Beirut’s Mar Mikhael district to prevent the protesting part-time workers from disrupting the company’s operations.

EDL also sent letters to both Energy Minister Gebran Bassil and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel Thursday in which the company reiterated that it has been unable to collect any bills for several months.

The company said it was no longer able to pay contract workers or conduct repair work where needed. The lack of repairs was resulting in power cuts in a number of areas, EDL said.

EDL contract workers have been protesting for months, with their most recent actions including shutting the gates of EDL offices in Beirut and elsewhere during work hours and preventing normal activity.

The contract workers are demanding back pay as well as full-time employment by the company with comprehensive social and medical benefits.

In the letter, full-time employees at EDL indicated they could widen their protest should the relevant authorities fail to remedy the situation and meet their demands.

Critics say that the two-month sit-in by the contract workers and part-time bill collectors have wreaked havoc on the company, warning that EDL’s financial losses could get even worse if no settlement is reached soon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 14, 2012, on page 4.




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