Report: Major Battle Looms in Lebanon over MEA Job Cuts
Employees at Lebanon’s national carrier, Middle East Airlines, rejected in principle Wednesday any compulsory redundancies to prepare the loss-making airline for privatization, and threatened further disruptive labor action, said the Daily Star Thursday.
The threat came upon the announcement last week by MEA Chairman Mohammed Hout that “the airline will fire 1,200 workers and offer a further 250 voluntary redundancy or early retirement.”
The proposed job losses, part of a government-commissioned streamlining plan prepared by the MEA’s management, spurred unions to a one-day strike last week that reduced activity at Beirut International Airport, said the daily.
MEA Employees Union head Hussein Abbas was quoted at a press conference as saying that “MEA management did not discuss job losses with unions and only agreed to meet with the Lebanese Pilots Association (LPA), with which it has been negotiating on and off for the past few years."
The employees distributed a leaked summary of an International Finance Corporation (IFC) report which recommended that MEA shed 1,440 workers through voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes.
The report was commissioned by the Central Bank, which acquired 99 percent of MEA in 1996. While the IFC document has not officially been made public, MEA managers have referred to it in defense of their restructuring plans, it added.
According to the Star, the employees have criticized the IFC report for attempting to apply international experiences in airline privatization to Lebanon – Albawaba.com