BEIRUT: Electricite du Liban’s administration and its contract workers traded barbs in their ongoing dispute over the workers' employment status in opposing news conferences Thursday.
Electricite du Liban’s Chairman Kamal Hayek insisted that the company would not submit to the protests of the workers, calling on police to intervene and protect EDL employees.
“Electricite du Liban has the absolute right to determine its need for employees,” Hayek said in a news conference at noon, quoting a law passed by the Parliament in April.
Stressing that “any negotiations will only be held from the EDL offices,” he threatened the contracting companies with prosecution because their own employees were closing EDL facilities.
The contract workers have been working with the contracting companies since 2012, when the private entities were subcontracted to perform EDL’s technical services for four years.
Contract workers have been carrying protests at all EDL offices, preventing employees from entering the buildings. They are demanding full-time employment at EDL for all of the nearly 2,000 workers, while EDL has only agreed to hire 897.
Immediately after Hayek finished his news conference, the contract workers held their own, accused the executive of mismanagement, corruption and fraud.
“What does it mean to keep this administration that has resulted in so much deterioration for the sector since more than 15 years?” asked Ahmad Shoeib, spokesman for the workers’ union.
He accused Hayek of planning to increase the electricity prices in order to cover the “failure and corruption” at EDL.
The workers said EDL’s partnership with contracting companies had cost the electricity sector huge amounts of money, while the services provided to citizens had deteriorated.
The head of the union, Lebnan Makhoul, denied that the workers were calling for the employment of all workers.
“This is not true; we are simply calling for the employment of workers who have the right to be hired,” he said.