BEIRUT: Electricite du Liban will suspend their strike and resume repairs in the country, head of the EDL employees’ union told The Daily Star Friday as complaints mounted over power supply failures in different parts of Lebanon.
“We will suspend the strike until the end of the month and will start repairs starting from now,” union head Charbel Abi Saleh said.
He said the decision to suspend the strike was reached following a meeting with Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil.
Abi Saleh said Bassil had contacted the Finance Ministry that “promised to include in the new, reformulated budget the allocations that had been removed.”
Following his meeting with a delegation of EDL employees, Bassil voiced optimism that talks with the workers would result in a positive breakthrough.
“We hope that after this positive meeting we can start thinking about people’s interests,” the minister said.
“The workers have many demands, most of which are righteous ones. However, their objections should not affect the rights of people,” he said.
EDL workers, who launched their strike Monday, argue that their allocations and benefits have been slashed in the 2013 EDL draft budget and hold the Finance Ministry responsible.
The Finance Ministry lashed back at the worker’s association in a statement Friday, adding that it had not received a response from EDL and the Energy Ministry until after the strike was announced.
“Threatening citizens with power cuts and blaming the Finance Ministry is unacceptable. We call on workers to refer to their management and the Energy Ministry,” the statement said.
The ministry said it received Wednesday a complaint from EDL asking it to reconsider the budget cuts.
“We replied to the letter within less than 24 hours and we asked EDL to present explanations needed for the funds and they have not responded yet,” the statement said.
Residents in different parts of Lebanon continued to complain Friday over the deteriorating power supply in the country.
“Residents are suffering tragic conditions and urge relevant authorities to help restore the electricity services in their villages,” a statement issued by the residents of Dinnieh in north Lebanon.
Residents of Adonis-Zouk Mosbeh in Kesrouan also voiced their complaints Friday and threatened to protest at the EDL’s offices in Jounieh.
“We informed the EDL offices in Jounieh about the [power] failures but we haven’t had any response. If the EDL doesn’t answer our call, we will protest Monday at its Jounieh office,” said the statement.
Residents blocked the road connecting Hadath and Kfarshima with burning tires.
Many areas have been without electricity for nearly four days.
The severe power cuts came at a critical time for Lebanon after the strong storm which hammered the country for three consecutive days, uprooting trees, leveling walls and flooding the streets with water.