BEIRUT: Part-time power workers blocked the road and the doors Monday to the Beirut headquarters of Electricite du Liban to intensify pressure on officials to change their status to full-time.
They formed a human chain to briefly block traffic to EDL in both directions.
The protesters also burned tires to shut down access to the state-run power company in the Beirut neighborhood of Mar Mikhael, preventing full-time employees from entering the premises.
Addressing the protesters, MP Ibrahim Kanaan said a draft law proposed by him and fellow lawmakers Ali Ammar and Ali Bazzi had won the approval of parliamentary committees in addition to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Nevertheless, Kanaan called on the contract workers to go to Parliament if they are seeking amendments to the bill.
Speaking on behalf of the part-timers, Lubnan Makhoul described the bill, which he claimed was the work of Kannan, as a “massacre.”
The draft law “does not make us full-timers and also deprives us of just compensation,” Makhoul told reporters outside EDL.
He warned to cut power across Lebanon if Parliament "approved the bill as is."
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, however, defended the action of the protesters and vowed to fix their problem.
“I took to the street where the part-timers are because they have a cause,” Azzi said at the scene of the protest.
“If they weren’t in pain, they wouldn’t have come down to the street. And that pain will be treated,” he pledged.
The protesters also warned EDL that its headquarters would be closed down if their demands were ignored.
“If the employees’ demands are not met, we will close the [company’s] doors forever,” Makhoul said.
The protesters, who have staged similar demonstrations over the past few months, want Parliament to approve a draft law that would grant them full-time employment.
Parliament will meet for three consecutive days starting Tuesday to approve a number of draft laws, including that of EDL contract workers.
The workers called off their sit-in at midday with Makhoul hinting at an escalation if Parliament failed to amend the bill.
"Today we sent a message, and I believe it reached those concerned," he said.
"We have received a number of phone calls, and we are waiting for real answers [Tuesday]," he added.
A government-brokered deal in August called on hourly-paid electricity workers to end a three-month, open-ended sit-in at the EDL headquarters.