Lebanon News

Bank employee union calls for strike starting Tuesday

Byblos Bank building in Beirut, Feb. 5, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Less than two weeks after banks reopened to the public, some may close again Tuesday as result of a strike.

The Federation of Bank Employees Syndicates called Monday for the strike, citing unsuitable working conditions.

“The banking sector has witnessed an unstable situation. ... Some employees were exposed to insults and even attacked by depositors,” said the statement.

According to the statement, the chaotic situation facing many banks has led employees to become concerned for their mental and physical well-being, and to call for the federation to intercede.

The federation called for the strike to continue until the overall situation is calmer and more suitable for banks return to daily work.

According to Reuters, the president of the federation, George al-Hajj, said the decision had been taken on Monday at a meeting of the syndicate, which represents 11,000 bank employees. There are around 26,000 total bank employees, The Monthly magazine reported last year.

"We call on the employees to abide by our decision," Hajj said, adding that he did not know how many banks might be closed as a result.

Banks closed down for 12 working days after the nationwide protests against the ruling class broke out on Oct. 17.

Since banks reopened on Nov. 1, tensions have at times run high as banks have put severe restrictions in place on dollar transactions, creating problems for depositors attempting to withdraw dollars or make transfers abroad.

When asked during a news conference on Monday how the bank employee strike would affect the current situation, Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh said he was unaware of it.

Meanwhile, employees of the two state-owned mobile telecom companies, Alfa and touch, also announced in a statement Monday that they will go on an open-ended strike starting Tuesday, complaining that they aren't being paid and that their annual income has been slashed by 30 percent.

According to the statement, this has affected the livelihoods of more than 2,000 families, and that the decision to go on strike comes amid ongoing negotiations with caretaker Telecommunications Minister Mohamed Choucair.

 

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