Tension at EDL as Contract Workers Urged to End their ‘Riot’

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Electricite du Liban contract workers on Monday stopped the company’s employees from entering the firm’s headquarters in Beirut’s Mar Mikhael area, a move that the energy minister and the company’s director described as a “riot.”

Following a meeting held at the energy ministry by EDL’s board of directors, the state-run firm’s director general Kamal al-Hayek urged the contract workers to “calm down” and said the law protects everyone.

He described their protest as a “riot.”

Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian also urged the workers to “end their riot because it is useless.”

Around 2,000 contract workers have been observing a nationwide strike, demanding their full-time employment and rejecting a decision issued by the company’s management to hire only 897 of them.

Al-Hayek has denied that the law, which was adopted by parliament in April, allows the full-time employment of all contract workers.

But the protesters again blocked EDL’s main entrance in Mar Mikhael on Monday, said the state-run National News Agency.

Five workers poured gasoline over themselves, threatening self-immolation. One of them swallowed gasoline, but the Red Cross treated him.

Their move came amid a heavy deployment of security forces after EDL’s board of directors asked them last week to keep the employees safe.

“All employees and workers at the EDL shall return to their jobs at the company’s headquarters and its branches on Monday,” the board said in a statement.

It called on the Internal Security Forces to escort the employees and ensure their safety while entering and leaving the company’s headquarters and branches across Lebanon.

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