BEIRUT: Employees at the state-funded Rafik Hariri University Hospital held a protest Thursday over delays in the payment of their salaries, something they described as a chronic failure on the government’s part. “We only received half our pay for August and until now we haven’t gotten our salaries for September,” complained one employee, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Raafat.
“All their previous promises have gone with the wind,” he said of the government’s guarantees in June to pay overdue salaries, a promise that persuaded the hospital staff, both medical and nonmedical, to end their ongoing protests at the time.
The strike ended following a guarantee from the Health Ministry and hospital management that overdue salaries would be paid within the week.
Head of the employees committee at the hospital, Bassam Akoum, said payment of overdue wages was just one of their many demands.
“Our future is cloudy. Our life is a puzzle. At the end of each month we have to guess whether we are going to get paid or not. Whether or not we are going to receive the [money] we are entitled to,” Akoum told The Daily Star.
He slammed the government for being “unwilling” to solve the salary issue. “The government believes that salaries should be paid out of hospital revenues,” Akoum said. “We are against this logic because it would only cover 10 percent of [our regular salary].”
He said the employees’ committee would hold a meeting Friday to decide their next move.
A statement issued by the hospital staff Thursday criticized officials for “overlooking” their plight and “ignoring their responsibilities” toward the hospital. “The future of more than 1,100 employees and their families is unknown,” the statement said.
It said 174 dialysis patients risk dying, in addition to 250 cancer patients.