Lebanese parliamentary committee backs striking electricity workers
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012
A Lebanese parliamentary committee on Thursday concluded that striking workers at the state electricity company be given full-time employment, deeming it a victory for workers' rights.
Around 2,500 workers had been on strike for over a month over poor wages and lack of job security, with many involved in an ongoing sit-in at the headquarters of the Électricité du Liban (EDL) in Beirut.
Strike leaders had threatened further measures, including a hunger strike, but parliament's Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water Committee ruled they should be given full working rights.
The news was welcomed by the protesters.
Hossam, an employee of the company for 13 years, said he was happy with the decision, but warned the strike would not end until the deal was confirmed.
"We are pleased by the announcement because we have been fighting for nearly 40 days to get our rights to be real employees," he said.
"We have to wait till next week to get the final agreement, so our strike will stay until then. But, God willing, after next week we will stop the strike."
Mohammad Qabbani MP, head of the parliamentary committee, said the decision was victory for workers' rights.
"We have taken this decision which we think is the best decision. This is the decision of the joint parliamentary committee," he told Al-Akhbar.
"It is in favor of the workers, we are supporting the workers. We know what we are doing," he said.
MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement, of which Energy Minister Gebran Bassil is part, boycotted the debate over the report, saying it had too many flaws and should have been abandoned.
On the boycott by FPM, Qabbani said: "They were against and they went out of the meeting but this is democracy. They have the right to do what they want, this is democracy."