Lebanon’s oil sector plans to hold a three-day strike next week to press their demand that the government allow an increase of the fuel surcharge, the president of the Association of Oil Importing Companies announced Monday. Speaking at the association’s headquarters, Maroun Chammas said that the Cabinet’s decision to increase the minimum wage has become a burden on oil-importing companies.
“There are rights that cannot be neglected and consequently we can’t accord one sector preferential treatment over another, particularly since [we are forced] to pay the increase in wages by the Cabinet,” he told reporters. According to Chammas, the sector is demanding an increase of LL820 on the overall price of 20 liters of fuel to be distributed as follows: LL500 to be added to the surcharge accumulated by gas stations, LL120 for oil transporting tanks, and LL200 for oil-importing companies.
The strike is scheduled to take place between April 2-4. Chammas also left room for a solution to prevent the strike, which – if it goes ahead – would cripple the country’s economy and possibly cause a fuel shortage.
“Our hands are extended to all those concerned in this matter, especially Energy Minister Gibran Bassil and Economy Minister Nicolas Nahas and Prime Minister Najib Mikati,” he said. Bassil has rejected the demands of the station owners, saying their actions resemble those of a mafia. Many gas stations around the country complied last week with a strike called by the petroleum sector over the same demands.