Contract workers with Electricite Du Liban (EDL) continued their protest Monday by closing the doors of the state-run company in Beirut and prevented maintenance teams from leaving the premises.
The workers, who have been on strike for nearly three months demanding full-time employment, also occupied the reception area on the ground floor of the building.
EDL has repeatedly said that the strike by some 2,500 contract workers has crippled the company’s operations, with most maintenance work and bill collections having come to a stop.
There was hope earlier this month that the strike could come to an end after Parliament endorsed a bill to employ the contract workers full time.
Christian parties have objected to the law, arguing that employing contract workers with the state-run EDL without a proper mechanism would cause a sectarian imbalance in the public sector.
The draft legislation is awaiting approval by Parliament’s Secretariat.
However, news media reported that Hezbollah and some March 8 factions are trying to reach some sort of a compromise between House Speaker Nabih Berri and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun on the issue of EDL’s part timers.
Sources said Aoun insists that the striking workers end their occupation of EDL’s headquarters before negotiating any deal with Berri.
The service providers that have contracts with EDL to carry out certain tasks stress that they are willing to accommodate most of the part-time workers provided they pass a test.
But most of the part-time workers fear that their contracts with the service providers may end once the contracts of these companies with EDL expires in the next five years.
EDL claims that the open-ended strike has dealt a severe blow to the electricity sector as evidenced by rising power rationing.
The Daily Star