Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said Wednesday that Parliament failed to consider the Cabinet’s Electricite du Liban draft law Monday and described the session, during which an alternative proposal was passed into law, as setting a dangerous precedent.
“Preventing the Cabinet from viewing the draft law it presented to Parliament and preventing it from defending the proposal is considered a dangerous precedent affecting the separation of powers, and undermines the work of the Cabinet,” Bassil told reporters following a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati Wednesday.
Parliament endorsed a bill Monday that would enable many contract workers at Electricite du Liban to become full-time employees of the state-run company. EDL contract workers have been on a two-month strike to demand full-time employment.
The bill Parliament endorsed Monday differs significantly from the one proposed by the Cabinet. It was prepared by a parliamentary committee tasked with resolving the status of EDL contract workers.
In response to Parliament’s passing of the bill Monday, MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc along with the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb party blocs boycotted Tuesday’s parliamentary session. As a result of the boycott, Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session.
Hours later, 10 ministers from Aoun’s bloc boycotted a Cabinet session at Baabda Palace that was scheduled to debate a draft budget for 2012.
The Christian parties argue that a bill allowing EDL contract workers to become full-time employees following a contest would lead to the underrepresentation of Christians in the public sector.
After his meeting with Mikati, Bassil said Parliament failed to allow the Cabinet to exercise its right to defend its proposal regarding EDL contract workers.
“We have said that the government supports its own draft law in terms of the needs of Electricite Du Liban and [the company’s] employment capacity,” Bassil said.=
“We boycotted [the Cabinet session] to clarify some issues. We cannot say that it is an open-ended boycott; we are keen on the government [resuming] work and there are efforts under way in this regard,” he added.