Lebanon: Nationwide strike relatively peaceful
The Lebanese army deployed heavily in the capital and elsewhere amid a nationwide labour strike. Permanent checkpoints were set up throughout the country and troops were constantly patrolling the streets to prevent violence .
There were some minor incidents but overall nothing major was reported.
The head of the General Confederation of Workers of Lebanon, Ghassan Ghosn, said the strike was aimed at forcing the government to raise the minimum wage and address inflation.
According to AFP, he added that the union had called protesters to avoid violence and clashes. The CGTL is calling for the minimum monthly wage to be tripled from 300,000 Lebanese pounds (US$200) to 900,000 pounds. Consumer prices rose 3.7 percent in the 10 months to October, led by an eight percent hike in food prices, according to the private Institute of Research and Consulting.
As-Safir newspaper, which is close to the opposition, said Thursday that the strikes were but a reflection of growing unease among the population. The trade unions in Lebnon are divided along political lines and cannot therefore agree on the issues and actions required to resolve them.
A spokesman for opposition leader and parliament speaker Nabih Berri rejected accusations that their camp was behind the growing unrest. "The speaker worked hard into the night yesterday to make sure the labour strike does not end in violence and for it to be symbolic," said the spokesman. "The charges that we are behind the protests is baseless."