Jun 09 2012
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EDL: Subscribers must pay accumulated electricity bills
09 June 2012
BEIRUT: Electricite du Liban said Friday citizens would have to pay accumulated electricity bills due to the open-ended strikes by contract workers at the state-run company.
“What the contract workers have done by not collecting money will force customers to pay two invoices or more instead of one at a time in the coming period due to the accumulation of unpaid bills,” EDL said in a statement.
It added that the state-run company would have to send out bills for several months because the collectors had failed to issue them.
Power supply has dwindled across the country, reaching as low as two hours per day in some areas.
A newly created Parliament committee was tasked with drafting a law authorizing EDL to offer permanent employment to nearly 1,200 contract and part-time workers in a bid to end the strike.
However, the committee, which was supposed to meet Thursday to discuss the draft law, failed for the second day in a row to address the thorny issue after a dispute erupted over who is authorized to attend the meeting.
In its statement Friday, EDL said the strike by some of its contract workers obstructed the work of “this vital public sector” by preventing employees from entering the EDL building during protests.
EDL also accused the contract workers of breaking surveillance cameras, confiscating keys for equipment and cutting off phone lines inside the state-run firm’s headquarters.
“The company apologizes to the citizens for its inability to serve them in the best manner given the circumstances mentioned above that are beyond its control,” the statement said.
EDL contract workers have suspended their protests in order to allow politicians to reach an agreement that would make them permanent employees of the state-run company.
A proposal reportedly under study involves allowing the workers to sit for a restricted employment exam and granting them permanent employment if they pass.
However, EDL and government officials say the firm cannot afford to hire all 2,000 of the part-time workers because they have a limited budget.
The two-month-long strike has exacerbated the already strained finances of EDL, which is incurring more than $1.5 billion in losses each year.
It remains to be seen whether the government will be able to resolve the row as political differences within the parliamentary committee have delayed its work and may ultimately derail such an effort.© Copyright The Daily Star 2012.
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