Lebanon News

Ghosn collapses after ‘tense’ meeting

The head of the General Labor Confederation collapsed suddenly after attending a mediation session Monday that saw GLC-private sector dialogue reach a dead-end.

Ghassan Ghosn fell ill while he and Labor Minister Ali Qanso were responding to questions by reporters about the latest results of government mediation between labor officials and business representatives.

Ghosn was taken to Hotel Dieu hospital, where Ghazi Ghosn said that his brother was “resting comfortably” and would remain in the hospital until tests were completed. He speculated that his brother was suffering from exhaustion.

Ghosn’s physician, Salam Kousa, said that his patient was in “no danger” and would stay in the hospital for 24-48 hours.

The incident followed a 90-minute meeting between Qanso and a GLC delegation that one participant described as “tense.”

Qanso said that “while I cannot say the talks have failed, they have not produced tangible results. I am referring the entire file to the Cabinet for its next session, and I hope it takes the proper decision.”

During the session, Qanso told the GLC officials that representatives of economic associations had rejected the GLC’s demands for higher education and transportation allowances.

The GLC is demanding that the government increase a daily transportation allowance for private sector employees from LL2,000 to LL6,000 and raise the maximum annual allowance for education support from LL1.5 million to LL2 million, based on LL500,000 for each child. The current maximum allows parents to receive allowances for three children.

Qanso indicated that the private sector was unwilling to agree to the demands, while the labor source said that Prime Minister Rafik Hariri might be willing to meet the GLC halfway on the transport demand by raising the allowance to LL4,000.

GLC officials did not issue a statement outlining the labor body’s next step following the announcement of the impasse, preferring to wait until the Cabinet’s Thursday’s session.

Before his collapse, Ghosn said that the GLC was still interested in “positive dialogue,” but demanded that the government and private sector take into consideration the economic situation of employees.

The GLC delegation also presented a memorandum to Qanso, answering the private sector groups’ study on solutions for the recession.

The memorandum said that the demand for LL6,000 transportation allowance was necessary because the government had endorsed the amount for public sector workers.

The GLC said that its series of demands were being put forth to buttress the purchasing power of employees, who have been hit hard by a 76 percent rise in the price of gasoline since 1996. The memo said a salary adjustment or an increase in allowances was needed to counter the developments.





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