BEIRUT — Employees of the state-owned telecommunications company Ogero announced on Thursday that they would commence an open-ended strike Friday. The move follows a warning strike by the employees this week to protest deteriorating living conditions amid a now more than three-year-old economic crisis.
The syndicate had announced a warning strike for Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week.
In its statement on Thursday, the syndicate said all of its employees will observe an open-ended strike starting Friday. They will not go to their offices and will suspend their work due to the fact that their demands for better salaries have not been heard. The syndicate added that this move comes after two days of strike in which "we did not receive any positive replies."
Marwan Halabi, a member of the syndicate, told L'Orient Today that the employees' have announced the strike to "call for an amendment of salaries, just like other employees of the public sector are calling for." Halabi also said that with their current salaries, "employees can't be convinced to go to their offices because they don't even have the funds to buy fuel."
Salaries of public sector employees, including Ogero employees, have been significantly eroded over the past three years. Lebanon's national currency has lost 98 percent of its value against the US dollar over the same time period. On Thursday, it was trading at around LL108,000 to the dollar on the parallel market, while the official exchange rate stands at LL15,000, the rate at which the state set the lira-dollar peg earlier this year following decades of consistency at LL1,507.5 to the dollar.
Asked whether the strike means that the employees will carry out repairs in the event of service outages, Halabi confirmed they would, though with reluctance. "We are not fans of obstruction or chaos, we are like any other citizens and we need internet ourselves so we don't wish for this to happen," he said.