Jreissati says KVA will keep contract workers

Labor Minister Salim Jreissati meets a delegation from KVA in Beirut, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Labor Minister Salim Jreissati Wednesday reassured contract electricity workers that the service provider company would go back on its decision to lay off tens of part-time employees.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with a delegation from KVA, Jreissati said: “We agreed to apply the law and [KVA] will refrain from firing any of the workers before consulting with the Labor Ministry a month in advance.”

“The contract workers can now return to their jobs as usual,” Jreissati added.

He also thanked KVA, an electric distribution service provider contracted by Electricite du Liban, for being flexible and agreeing to rehire the fired contract employees.

KVA let 62 workers go earlier this month after the company terminated their contracts, prompting the former employees to block a vital Beirut highway Tuesday, paralyzing traffic around the capital.

Jreissati said Tuesday that KVA violated a “political agreement” between the private company, state-run EDL and the government, vowing to resolve the issue.

After EDL decided to privatize its maintenance services in 2012, the government agreed with three private providers to take in hundreds of contract workers who had been employed by EDL.

The employees were to remain working at the private companies until Parliament passed a draft law that would see some of them move back to EDL. Others would stay with the private companies as long as they passed certain exams.

The legislative branch has not been able to convene to implement this decision due to political deadlock.

The deal was reached after EDL workers demonstrated for nearly three months against the government’s decision to privatize.

A member of the contract workers committee said EDL had failed to pay KVA for its services.

According to Bilal Jaouk, EDL did not pay KVA the full $35 million it owed the firm for its services.

The state-run firm paid only $7 million, prompting the workers’ firing, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 16, 2014, on page 5.




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