BEIRUT — Caretaker Minister of Telecommunications Johnny Corm and the union of mobile operators in Lebanon continued their dialogue on Thursday during the fourth consecutive day of strikes, as the minister threatened legal action "to find a solution" to the crisis.
Corm added that the union's demand to apply "the collective labor contract" could backfire on employees.
"Enforcing [the contract] would mean ceasing to pay salaries in 'fresh' dollars. Will they accept that?" he asked, as the Lebanese lira hit an all-time low of LL42,000 against the dollar on the parallel market Thursday.
Marc Aoun, president of the union, once again demanded the application of the collective labor contract "to correct the wage imbalance." He accused the sector's leaders of preparing "a list of employees to be promoted" to disassociate them from the strike movement.
In response to threats made by Corm, the unionist brandished a possible "escalation" until the implementation of the union's demands. The union is demanding contractual salary increases "overdue since 2018" and "equality among employees" for their promotions and salary increases.
The salaries of Alfa and Touch employees are paid 25 percent in 'fresh' dollars and 75 percent in Lebanese bank dollars (LL8,000 on the dollar). They also benefit from educational assistance of up to $8,000 (20 percent in fresh dollars) and an insurance policy valid for the parents and children of employees, the minister told L'Orient-Le Jour.
"On average, their remuneration is equivalent to $2,500 per month," Corm said. This figure is contested Aoun, who Corm holds responsible for the strike movement.
On Wednesday, Johnny Corm called caretaker Minister of Labor Mustapha Bayram and the chairman of the Committee on Media and Telecommunications, Ibrahim Moussawi, for support ahead of an "emergency meeting" with the union, the date of which was not specified.
Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour on Thursday, Corm confirmed that the meeting took place today, but that negotiations were still ongoing.