BEIRUT — The mobile operators' employees' union launched an open strike on Wednesday over unpaid salaries that are owed to some employees, the union announced in a statement.
"The services normally provided by Touch and Alfa will no longer be provided, and breakdowns are to be expected," a union source told L'Orient-Le Jour on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak with the press. "We won't be selling top-up cards, opening our centers or repairing any breakdowns that may occur. We are going on a total work stoppage until our demands are heard," the source warned.
The Touch and Alfa employees' union said in their public statement that "all employees must enjoy the same rights, responsibilities, rewards and achievements, regardless of rank and salary, in accordance with the collective employment contract."
The union source accused caretaker Telecoms Minister Johnny Corm of promoting more than 300 employees to management positions during the May 2022 elections, at the request of several political parties, which provoked resentment among their colleagues.
After another strike in December 2022, "the minister had a written agreement, sent to Touch and Alfa, stipulating that 80 percent of employees earning a salary of less than 3,000 Lollars (dollars blocked in the bank) would be promoted immediately and that the others would be promoted in March."
“The latter, around 20 percent of the employees of the two companies, representing some 200 to 300 people, were not able to benefit from this pay raise, with the minister citing a lack of funds," added the union source.
The union also criticized Corm's alleged willingness to hire an outside agency to evaluate employee performance and award pay raises. "This practice represents a serious threat to the structural foundations of both companies and a flagrant violation of their internal regulations,” the statement said. The union source also pointed to the cost of an external assessment, "which would enable employees claiming a raise to be paid."
Corm declined to comment when contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour.