BEIRUT — Residents of Batroun in North Lebanon called on striking Ogero workers Tuesday to secure diesel for the telecommunication centers that provide parts of the area with phone and internet coverage.
In a statement, the residents said that though they support Ogero workers' demands for higher salaries and their right to strike, "isolating" parts of Batroun "worsens our struggles amid the already difficult living conditions we face."
Telephone and internet outages were reported Monday in Saida, Nabatieh and some areas of North Lebanon while the state-run public telecommunication operator Ogero's workers continued their open-ended strike. The strike started last Tuesday to demand improvements in employee working conditions as the country suffers from an economic collapse.
On Monday, caretaker Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm signed four decrees in an effort to improve Ogero employees' working conditions. Still, workers announced they would not end their strike before Thursday as they are still awaiting a response to their demand for increased salaries.
The head of Ogero Imad Kreidieh confirmed on Monday to the workers' syndicate that Corm had signed three decrees in response to the employees' demands. The first decree grants a monthly sum for "social assistance," the second grants a raise in employees' transportation allowance and the third grants "attendance" payments for the next two months. A fourth decree signed by Corm requests a treasury advance of approximately LL200 billion from the Ministry of Finance, sourced from the 2022 budget reserves. The advance requires the signature of both the caretaker finance minister and Prime Minister Najib Mikati in the coming hours to become effective.
Despite their strike, Ogero employees said they will provide 21 main telecommunications centers with diesel — up from 13 — to avoid a total outage of telecoms in the country.