More than 6,000 Lebanese employees of the power, water, telephone, transport and tobacco state utilities started Wednesday an open-ended strike to protest a government halt to 60-year-old benefits, said reports.
Article 75 of the 2001 state budget, voted on June 21 with a forecast deficit of $3.3 billion, stipulates ending 60-year-old privileges, mainly financial benefits.
Electricity employees will now have to pay the full-tariff 135 pounds (nine US cents) per kilowatt-hour instead of 35 pounds, said the Daily Star newspaper.
The employees have accused officials of attempting to push through Article 75 of the Budget Law on the perks.
Workers are seeking approval from government officials to implement a draft law reconfirming their right to reduced rates.
While the country will still receive power, the strike will affect maintenance at Electricite Du Liban. The strikes will affect EDL, the Beirut Water Authority, the Qadisha Electricity Authority and the Public Transport Department, said the paper.
A delegation represented by the Confederation of Workers Unions from both independent and public institutions, headed by Fouad Harfoush, met Tuesday with Labor Minister Ali Qanso and Energy and Water Minister Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Beydoun.
Harfoush said they had asked for talks with Premier Rafiq Hariri, who has not yet set an appointment, the paper said.
Qanso said he called on unions to replace the open-ended strike with a one-day strike to voice their demands and “keep negotiations with officials open.”
Qanso said the solution lay in the hands of Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri - Albawaba.com