EDL employees threaten to stage open-ended strike

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

BEIRUT: The Electricite du Liban employees union threatened that company workers will hold an open-ended strike starting next week, a statement by the union said Tuesday.

The employees launched a three-day strike Tuesday to protest against their wage allocations proposed in the 2013 draft budget submitted by the Finance Ministry.

The union also said that employees would stage sit-ins inside EDL plants during their strike.

The statement, read by the head of the EDL employees union Charbel Saleh, urged the ministry to adjust its proposal, threatening to take further escalatory steps.

“We will go on an open-ended strike Monday if the Finance Ministry doesn’t correct its mistake,” read the statement.

“The union is ready to defend its rights no matter what,” it added.

“They have cut off allocations to the EDL, including hospitalization, schooling and end of year compensation,” Saleh told The Daily Star.

The EDL employees’ strike has spilled out on the citizens’ life as the workers are refusing to repair electricity damages caused by a storm that hit Lebanon two days ago.

A statement issued by the EDL urged employees to resume work and said the timing of their protest was totally inconvenient.

“The EDL administration understands the demands of the workers, however wishes they would have declared their strike in better circumstances,” said the statement.

Saleh, however, said that the employees will not back off their demands until the Finance Ministry clearly states it will give back the allocations to the company.

“Whenever they respond to our demands, we will end our strike. If they don’t, we will declare it open-ended,” said Saleh.

A source from the Finance Ministry told The Daily Star that the ministry had not received an official complaint from the EDL administration or the Energy Ministry to address the issue.

“We can’t react to anyone who protests. The officials in the company didn’t report anything wrong to us, neither did the energy minister,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi said Saturday that the Cabinet has asked his ministry to reformulate the 2013 state budget he submitted in September 2012.

According to Safadi, the ministers rejected taxes proposed in the budget.





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