The General Labor Confederation (GLC), Lebanon’s largest labor union, slammed Thursday the performance of the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, calling the Cabinet’s approach to the electricity crisis absolutely “preposterous.”
In a strongly worded statement following a meeting of its executive body in Beirut, the GLC warned that the electricity crisis has become the most pressing issue in Lebanon as much of the country has been plunged into darkness this summer.
“The manner in which the government is dealing with the electricity crisis has become a total travesty and it seems that the Cabinet is following the same ineffective policies of their predecessors,” the GLC said.
Most Lebanese regions, including the capital, have been experiencing severe power rationing over the past few weeks amid growing signs that the electricity crisis will persist this summer despite the assurance of state-owned Electricite du Liban that supply will improve Saturday.
In many regions, especially rural areas, power rationing has exceeded 20 hours a day and some villages and provinces have received less than an hour of electricity daily over the past two days.
The GLC also criticized the government’s economic and financial policies and voiced strong objections to raising taxes on the working class and consumers.
It added that the 2012 draft budget, which was submitted by Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi did not offer anything new with the exception of taxes that will burden the population.
The GLC called on the government to take more measures to protect consumers from greedy merchants and added that the prices of some commodities are still surging for no logical reason.
The statement called on the Economy and Trade Ministry to cap the profit margin of basic commodities.
It questioned why the prices of bread continues to rise at a time when the prices of wheat and oil are plunging in international markets.
In addition, the GLC called on the government to adopt a reasonable rent law to alleviate the pressure on low income families.
The GLC also expressed its support for the demands of EDL’s contract workers and part-time electricity bill collectors, stressing that these employees have every right to become full-time staff with full social and medical benefits.
The contract and part-time workers have waged a series protests and strikes over the past two months to demand full-time employment.
The workers have even stormed EDL’s headquarters and evicted staff on several occasions.
The workers’ protest action is among the reasons cited by EDL’s management for the power crisis that has gripped the country.
The state-run firm has also said that maintenance works conducted on major plants and the suspension of power imports from Egypt and Syria have contributed to the deteriorating electricity supply across the country.
The firm has said that some maintenance works would be completed by Saturday.