BEIRUT: Electricite Du Liban employees suspended their strike Friday after what they described as positive signals from both the energy and finance ministries in meeting their demands.
“The union thanks both the energy and finance ministers for being positive toward our demands and thus decided to suspend the strike until the end of the month,” said a statement by the EDL employees’ union.
The statement said that the 20-day period as a result of suspending the strike would allow the ministries to implement agreements with the workers, without specifying the nature of the agreements.
The union also vowed workers would exert intensive efforts to repair the electricity shortages caused by the massive storm that hit the country this week.
Charbel Abi Saleh, the head of the EDL employees’ union, told The Daily Star earlier Friday that the workers would suspend their strike and resume repairs as complaints soared over power supply failures in different parts of Lebanon.
“We will suspend the strike until the end of the month and will start repairs starting from now,” Abi Saleh said.
He said the decision to suspend the strike was reached following a meeting with Energy and Water Ministry Minister Gebran Bassil.
Abi Saleh said Bassil had contacted the Finance Ministry which “promised to include in the new, reformulated budget the allocations that had been removed.”
Following his meeting with a delegation of EDL employees, Bassil voiced optimism that talks with the workers would result in a positive breakthrough.
“We hope that after this positive meeting that we can start thinking about people’s interests,” the minister said.
“The workers have many demands, most of which are righteous ones. However, their objections should not affect the rights of people,” he said.
EDL workers, who launched their strike Monday, argue that their allocations and benefits have been slashed in the 2013 EDL draft budget and hold the Finance Ministry responsible.
Residents in different parts of Lebanon continued to complain Friday over the deteriorating power supply in the country brought on by a lack of repairs.
“Residents are suffering tragic conditions and urge relevant authorities to help restore the electricity services in their villages,” a statement issued by the residents of Dinnieh in north Lebanon.
Residents of Adonis-Zouk Mosbeh in Kesrouan also voiced their complaints Friday and threatened to protest at the EDL’s headquarters in Jounieh.
“We informed the EDL offices in Jounieh about the [power] failures but we haven’t had any response. If the EDL doesn’t answer our call, we will protest Monday at its Jounieh office,” said the statement.
Similarly, some residents of Mreijeh, Baabda, complained that their neighborhood has been without electricity for three days.