Berri-Aoun Differences Linger over EDL Crisis

Posted on: August 01, 2012 at 01:03
Efforts are ongoing to resolve the crisis that is threatening the March 8 alliance as AMAL movement leader Speaker Nabih Berri and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun failed to agree on a solution concerning Electricite du Liban contract workers’ full-time employment.

According to As Safir newspaper published on Tuesday, Hizbullah and Marada leader Suleiman Franjieh are seeking to find consensus among the two parties.

The daily reported that a meeting held at Franjieh’s residence in Bnashii on Sunday between Aoun’s son-in-law Energy Minister Jebran Bassil, Hizbullah Liaison and Coordination Officer Wafiq Safa and former MP Youssef Saadeh, failed to bridge the sharp differences between AMAL and the FPM.

Sources said that the meeting didn’t reach a common ground, noting that Monday’s developments complicated the issue.

On Monday, the contract workers closed all the entrances of the company’s headquarters in Mar Mikhael with metal chains while the full-time employees staged a counter-protest outside.

The daily said that intensified contacts were held on Monday between Hizbullah and AMAL, however, Berri called on mediators to communicate with his advisor Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil instead of him.

Sources told al-Akhbar newspaper that Berri is waiting for the concerned parties to go back to the parliament “where he will be open to any proposed modifications to the draft law.”

The sources linked the looming crisis with the stances of Bassil who “refuses any solution other than the one he has in mind.”

“We will not allow anyone to target us anymore,” sources close to Berri told the daily.

Head of General Labor Confederation Ghassan Ghosn told An Nahar newspaper that Berri withdrew from the negotiations regarding the issue.

The ties between Berri and Aoun deteriorated after the parliament approved a decision taken by the joint parliamentary committees to permanently employee the workers instead of adopting Bassil’s proposed plan, arguing that 80 percent of them belong to non-Christian sects and most of them support Berri, who is a Shiite.

Bassil had previously proposed to allow 700 contract workers to stand for an official exam, out of some 2,500 employees, while the rest would become employees at private companies under a three-month probation period as EDL can’t contain all of the employees.

The contract workers have been holding a strike for the past three months demanding EDL to pay them their June-July salaries and their full-time employment.
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