The divisions within the General Confederation of Labor Unions, (GCLU), are getting deeper as political uncertainty grips the country.
Eleven unions boycotted by-elections to select six new members and president to the board of GCLU. The vote, which took place last week, prompted the dissident unions to establish a rival confederation, entitled “The General Confederation for Workers in Lebanon,” (GCWL). The new organization, which is waiting for official permit from the Ministry of Labor, already held its first board meeting.
On the sidelines sits the Union of Bank Employees in Lebanon, which has some 6000 members.
The president of the Union of Bank Employees in Lebanon, Asad Khoury, said that his organization did not take part in the GCLU elections “because we were convinced that the results were already predetermined.” Khoury said that the GCLU is politically oriented and it hardly offers proper representation of the country’s workers.
“The dissenting unions suffer from the same problem,” he said of the newly founded confederation. “It also represents a one-side political vision,” he said.
“We are trying to guide our union clear from the political rifts that afflict the labor movement,” he said.
Khoury said that the main concern of the Union of Bank Employees was to secure the endorsement of the social protection law, which involves the continued granting of medical benefits for employees after retirement at the age of 64.
"This must pass into law during 2011. It can be financed simply by allocating LL1000 (66 cents), from the taxes on the prices of fuel and gas," he said.
"The proposal is crucial not only to us but to all workers, and if the GCLU embraces our demand we will support it," he said.
Khoury said that, while the GCLU has promised to extend its support to their demand, the concern is that it could be deflected from fulfilling its promise by political consideration," since the mood of the street is swayed by the political tempo."