Another Week of Strikes Looms Ahead in Lebanon

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Another Week of Strikes Looms Ahead in Lebanon

Another week of nationwide strikes is looming ahead as major state institutions are set to carry on their protest action to condemn the government's alleged plan to cut the salaries of public servants as part of its 2019 austerity budget.

Head of the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers, Bechara Asmar, warned that the situation in the country is turning sour, stressing on the workers’ unity in facing the government's plan.

Moreover, the syndicate of Banque du Liban employees declared an open-ended strike to denounce the campaign targeting the Central Bank and protest attempts to reduce their salaries and benefits.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Central Bank employees affirmed that they won’t back down on the strike, and threatened escalation should the government fail to pay heed to their demands.

The syndicate noted that the Central Bank's budget is independent from that of the state, thus assuring that it does not affect neither the state nor its budget.

“We are heading towards extreme escalation; the Central Bank's employees should remain untouched,” the statement noted.

“The current austere budget harms civil servants, knowing that there are other ways to reduce squandering and state deficit."

“We are coordinating with the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers so that the strike would be taken to an all-inclusive, large scale,” the statement added.

“Governor of the Central Bank does not support our strike, but told us that the law grants us the right to stop working until our demands are met,” it explained.

The Central Bank employees affirmed that they will not keep mum about any salary cut even if it will apply to the entire country, saying that they have been the first to adopt austerity in the public sector.

"For instance, the advance payment we used to obtain along with the end-of-service pensions was annulled more than 10 years ago, and our salary bonuses have been curtailed from 8% to 3% ," they explained.

Likewise, the National Social Security Fund employees announced that they will carry on with their open strike, urging all their colleagues across the country to joi the protest set to be staged on Monday outside the NSSF's head office in Beirut's Wata Al-Msaytbeh.

During this week, employees at Electricite du Liban, the National Social Security Fund, the Regie Tobacco company, Ogero, the Litani River Authority, water authorities across the country, the Beirut Port and other public administrations stopped working to pressure that their demands be met.