BEIRUT: Electricite du Liban refused to carry out repairs Saturday despite a move by the striking contract workers to allow maintenance teams to enter the company's premises, saying employees will not carry out repairs according to the whims of the striking contractors.
Earlier in the day, contract workers allowed EDL maintenance teams to enter the company's premises to take equipment for repairs in Beirut.
The workers, who have sealed off all four entry points to EDL, allowed the team to enter under the supervision of Future Movement MP Mohammad Qabbani in order to begin repairs on a power plant that feeds most of the capital.
However EDL rejected the move, saying in a statement that "work cannot be regulated through selective access to the central building and with prior permission from people who are occupying the headquarters in a way that only remind us of the Civil War days."
“Either the doors open and the entry of employees and directors is guaranteed and they can work in a normal fashion ... or there is no use in selectively entering the premises.”
“We apologize to the citizens because we cannot serve them in a full and sound way in the presence of this abnormal situation, which the company had warned about.”
It also asked security forces to end the crippling strike by the contract workers in "the most vital public sector."
In light of the workers’ protests and open-ended strike, and the refusal of maintenance teams to enter the premises, the country - particularly in Beirut neighborhoods and the Metn region - has witnessed severe electricity rationing.
EDL has blamed the hours long blackouts on the contract workers' protests, saying they have “occupied” the premises and that the building, along with its documents, was now in the custody of security forces.
The company had also asked its employees to refrain from going to work for their own security.
EDL contract workers have been striking over the past three weeks, holding protests and blocking the entrance to EDL headquarters across Lebanon. They are demanding that each of the around 2,000 contract workers be made full-timers. EDL had decided to only grant full-time status to 879 of them, arguing that this was all the company needed.
Full-time Electricite du Liban workers will hold a three-day strike next week to protest the blocking of the company premises by contract workers.