BEIRUT — The land transport unions announced that Wednesday a series of marches will take place in and around Beirut as part of a planned general strike to denounce skyrocketing fuel prices amid an economic crisis that has left 78 percent of the population living in poverty and many struggling to access gasoline for their vehicles.
Here’s what we know:
• The General Confederation of Lebanese Workers alongside the land transport unions will go on a general strike on Wednesday in a “day of anger over the effective end of state subsidies on fuel without an alternative policy having been put in place to help support workers,” General Confederation of Lebanese Workers head Bechara al-Asmar told L’Orient Today.
• According to the unions’ announcement, Wednesday’s demonstrations will take place between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., and will follow four different routes in Beirut. One march will start from the Dora roundabout and move towards Saifi before proceeding to Hamra, where it will pass by Bank du Liban and then the Interior Ministry, to end up in Riad al-Solh Square in Downtown. Another protest will start from the Energy Ministry, with participants marching to Sassine Square in Achrafieh before also continuing to Riad al-Solh Square. A third protest will start at the Cola roundabout then move along Corniche al-Mazraa and Sanayeh Spears before arriving in Downtown at the Grand Serail and then Riad al-Solh. A fourth will start in Kafaat in Hadi Nasrallah Street in Beirut’s southern suburbs and proceed through Msharrafieh, Qasqas, along the Barbir highway and on to Martyrs’ Square and then Riad al-Solh Square.
• Other protests will take place in Saida, Bekaa, Baalbeck-Hermel, Mount Lebanon and Akkar.
• Several groups, including the GCLW, met Monday with cabinet officials, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati, to demand, among other things, an increase in the minimum wage, as well as an increase in employees’ transportation allowance. Following the meeting, the GCLW announced that it demands the monthly minimum wage be upped from LL675,000 to LL12 millon.
• The unions are expected to meet Mikati again on Tuesday evening to discuss their demands.
• Last week the head of the GCLW criticized the government for lifting subsidies in “a chaotic way” without launching a planned ration card program. “The whole point of the ration card program was that people would be given money simultaneously when the subsidies get lifted,” al-Asmar said at a press conference.