A number of labor unions have requested a permit from the Ministry of Labor to establish a separate organization. The anticipated union will be named “the General Union of Lebanon’s Workers.”
The split in the labor movement was triggered by differences over holding by-elections by the General Confederation of Labor Unions, GCLU, in order to elect six members to its leadership, including the president. Eleven unions that are members of the confederation were opposed to the by elections, which were held yesterday and resulted in reappointing Ghassan Ghosn to the position of president.
The GCLU is an umbrella organization that includes 50 labor unions representing workers of various sectors.
Yet the divisions that plague the GCLU mirror the political disputes that split the country. Hezbollah and its allies support GCLU, while the March 14 Movement supports the 11 dissident unions.
Ghassan Ghosn, the president of GCLU, said that the rebellious unions were motivated by political ideals and not by the interest of the workers. He said that the dissident members have not withdrawn from the Confederation. “Moreover, the union representing free professions, participated in the elections that took place yesterday, and its leader, Antone Antone, was elected to the board of GCLU,” said Ghosn.
Ghosn said that the rebellion by the 11 unions is not new. “It happens in every election,” he said. “And it will soon disappear.” He said that he was certain that the Minister of Labor would grant them a permit to establish a new confederation. “For one thing, I know that the minister told them that he cannot support a union that is politically single sided. For another, the decision to grant them a permit needs the approval of the cabinet, which cannot meet at present because it has resigned and a new government needs to be formed.”
The GCLU plans to hold a series of protests throughout the country at the end of the month in order to complain against low pay and high prices.