BEIRUT — A countrywide bank employees union announced Thursday it would hold a protest on Oct. 12 to call for employees' safety after a series of bank holdups this month in which depositors — some of them armed — demanded access to their own savings.
Contacted by L'Orient Today, the president of the Federation of Syndicates of Bank Employees, George al-Hajj, said that the location of the protest had not yet been decided.
In a statement issued by the Federation, the employees criticized Lebanese authorities for their approach to addressing the country's financial downfall, saying that this failure "is what made the Lebanese lose their confidence in the banking sector."
Lebanese authorities have not yet implemented some of the key reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to unlock a multi-billion-dollar financial assistance package. Those reforms include, among others, lifting banking secrecy, implementing a capital control law and restructuring banks.
The bank employees' statement Thursday called on government authorities to "speed up the approbation of laws" that would solve the banking crisis.
The employees also demanded measures that would "stop the threats that are posted on social media to break into banks using weapons." They said it was up to the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL) to find the correct approach to protect bank workers.
At least seven bank holdups took place in the same week across Lebanon in mid-September by depositors demanding their own funds.
On Monday, some banks reopened with limited capacity after more than a week of closure due to the holdups. In its statement announcing the banks' reopening, ABL said each bank could take measures deemed necessary to guarantee its own security.
Following the unprecedented economic crisis which took shape in late 2019, banks have placed de-facto capital control laws on most people's deposits while reportedly transferring billions of dollars abroad, including accounts of senior politicians.