Founding of the Daily-Workers Committee: between 2000 and 2002.*
Origin of the daily-work phenomenon in the public sector:
Starting from 1974, a general and progressive policy of “rationalization” of the cost of labor concerning public administrations and public utilities was adopted by the Lebanese government. The Civil Service Council (CSC),1 first limited the number of public competitions to access the post of civil servants, and eventually shelved them in 1998. Starting from 1974 and lasting till today, the integration of new staff and the renewal of the retired civil servants was mostly assured through the hiring of precarious workers employed and paid on a daily basis.
Since the public administration could not (directly) hire labor force, the employment of daily-workers was delegated to subcontractor private companies. Thus, an important percentage of the labor force employed in the public administration and in the national utilities was progressively “externalized” and handed over to subcontractor companies.2 As for the daily-workers, they legally depend on subcontractor companies,3 but actually operate for the ordering institutions: they receive orders from their civil servants supervisors, they drive public companies' cars, their work shifts are tracked by the public companies time clock, etc. Only salaries and social protection differ compared to their civil servants colleagues. Therefore, to externalize workers’ hiring to subcontractor companies allows the State to actually dispose of labor force while avoiding the provision of social protection for the employees that it (in)directly controls.4
The emergence and the growth of daily-work phenomenon at EDL:
Along with the policy adopted by the government, the daily-work phenomenon started affecting the EDL company in 1974. Since public competitions were closed or shelved, at the time, the most common way to find a job as a daily-worker at EDL was to know somebody who was already working in the company as a civil servant and “ask for a little string pulling”.5 It is not clear if between the 70s and the 80s subcontractor companies already existed in EDL or if daily-workers were directly employed and paid by the company. Anyway, between the 70s and the 90s, the daily work phenomenon at EDL was not quantitatively impressive yet. Likewise, the outsourcing system was gradually adopted and progressively formalized at EDL only in the 90s and mostly in the 2000s. Moreover, between 1993 and 1994 a big part of the “muyāwimīn” (daily-workers) were appointed to civil servant positions under Elie Hobeika's Ministry of Energy and Water (1993-1998).
The exponential increase of the daily-work phenomenon at EDL began in the 2000s when EDF (Électricité de France), which was a major subcontractor in the reconstruction program after the war, reached the end of its contract. On this occasion, around 200 contract workers who were previously employed by EDF passed to the daily-workers status which meant, inter alia, a drastic lowering of their salaries too.6 At the beginning of the year 2000, daily-workers and subcontractor companies exponentially increased. Between 1995 and 2011, daily-workers at the EDL increased from around 500 to 2,400. As for subcontractor companies, before 2011 their number pivoted between 100 and 200.7
Daily-work, as well as subcontracting, seem to have served different aims. On the one hand, outsourcing and externalizing work allows the State and its company to lower the cost of the labor force while actually disposing of workforce in the rough. From this perspective, subcontracting can be interpreted as a means of substitution of the workforce by a commercial relationship with a private company. In fact, the hired companies did not and do not offer a service that was not previously assured by the purchaser itself (EDL). In other words, EDL has never been dependent on the services offered by the subcontractor companies, but has only – and always – been dependent on the workforce that these companies mobilized. For these reasons, a first aim can be identified in the willingness of withdrawing from the social and economic responsibility towards these workers more than in a genuine necessity of providing new services.
On the other hand, the adoption of an outsourcing system as well as the choice of keeping and nourishing a precarious model of work is most likely to encourage – or to maintain – a “clientelistic” system of distribution of the economic resources that a national utility can offer. In fact, despite the precarious and underpaid nature of the job, daily-work is not easy to get. The informal nature of this occupation makes it an easy prey for politicians and local notables who can control and distribute the hirings among their favorites: “If you want to work at EDL (as a daily-worker) you can't just go and ask for work. You need a string pulling. You are a daily-worker? You have a string pulling”.8
Origin of the EDL Daily-Workers' Committee (DWC):
The founding date of the DWC is unclear. A first core of the committee was most probably founded between 2000 and 2002 by the current president Ahmad Chaeb, but the committee remained mostly dormant and ineffective until 2011.9 Before this date and only sporadically, the DWC was able to coordinate minor collective actions among the daily-workers (on this point see also the Status and the Notable events sections of this paper). In 2011 the DWC was completely renewed: the board was reorganized and many EDL daily-workers started to identify with the committee which was able to start and coordinate a protest movement that has not finished yet.
Origin of the EDL daily-workers' movement:
2011-2012: The today four-year-long protest movement of the daily-workers of Électricté du Liban first started in 2011. The company announced it would outsource its distribution service10 to three subcontractor private companies: KVA, BUS and NEUC.11 The protest began when the three companies, also known as Distributor Service Providers (DSP),12 refused to employ the daily-workers who feared to lose their jobs.13 In 2011, the committee started gathering the workers and following the evolution of the program announced by the EDL's board. When the program was launched in 2012, the DWC staged a serie of sit-ins and strikes all along Lebanon demanding full-employment of the daily-workers in EDL. The movement, which started the 2nd of May, lasted 93 days. In the end, the DWC was able to obtain the temporary employment of all daily-workers in the three new subsidiary companies as contract-workers and the promise from the Ministry of Energy and Water of a full-employment schedule for the (ex-)daily-workers after the private companies’ contracts end in 2016.
2014: A second long-run protest which lasted 4 months started in August 2014 when EDL announced it would only recruit 897 workers of the nearly 2000 precarious employees (ex-daily-workers) of the DSP.14 The protest ended in mid-December after DWC, EDL and political parties reached a deal about the establishment of public limited competitions to enter a full-position employment in EDL,15 but strikes and sit-ins continued after the announcement of the end of the protest by the DWC.
- Current leader: Ahmad Chaeb (2015-...);
- Former leader: Loubnan Makhoul (2011-2014).
Bilal Bajouq (2011-2015).
No official or formal headquarter has been created or declared by the DWC. An informal main office can be identified in the Électricité du Liban (EDL) headquarter which is located in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood of Beirut.16 It is from the EDL headquarter in Beirut that the Daily-Workers' Committee coordinates its regional and national activities. Between 2011 and 2015, strikes, sit-ins, meetings and press conferences of the committee were organized in the EDL meeting room or in the terrace behind the building. Some minor demonstrations were directly organized in peripheral regions but the committee was able to coordinate the demonstrations through its nation-wide network.
Ideology & Goals
Speaking of a “political- or confessional-oriented” movement would be a partial and biased analysis. Besides the politicization of the EDL daily-workers issue and movement done in the political arena on the one hand and in the medias on the other,17 daily-workers' ideology and goals have always remained substantially linked to a social aim: to access of a full-time position in EDL after years of precarious, underpaid work. Political affiliations have not “ran” the movement but have been exploited by actors on many occasions in order to reach this goal. In other words, the politicization of the movement has succeeded and not preceded its emergence. Certainly, the daily-workers' movement has suffered political pressures and served – in a more or less conscious way – parties' objectives, but it has also been able to face political adversaries and to benefit from its political allies in order to reach its own goals thus showing a certain capacity of reconversion of the political resources.
Political and religious affiliation:
The political and religious affiliation among the EDL daily-workers is quite diverse. All and every party and confession are represented among the workers. Nevertheless, Shiite Muslims outnumber their Sunni, Druze and Christian colleagues. Amongst Shiite Muslims, Amal Movement (AM) is the most represented. AM has been able, in the last ten years, to distribute the greatest number of employments amongst the daily-workers thanks to its political influence in EDL. Between 2011 and 2013, the former Minister of Energy and Water Gebran Bassil (Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)) has been able to hire about 100 FPM Christian daily or contract workers, which slightly – but not for that less symbolically – influenced the confessional and political balance among the workers.18 Most importantly, the heritage of the former Minister on the Ministry of Energy and Water remains: since Bassil is the one who has promoted the current outsourcing program of the distribution service of EDL, he is also the one who has chosen the men who have made the program effective and who are still working on it. The involvement of the former Minister Bassil in the reform program of EDL has made – wrongly or rightly – the FPM the perceived enemy of the DWC and of the striker workers. The FPM has, nonetheless, been the main opponent to the integration of daily-workers in the national electrical utility: “the Minister has changed, but his consultants are always there and they run the company. Practically it's the same thing. The FPM does not want us to be integrated”.19 In order to maintain a confessional and political balance, the DWC's board has been structured according to confessional quotas: between 2011 and 2015, the president was a Christian daily-worker, the vice-president and the spokesmen two Shiite Muslims. As for the members of the board, they have been chosen in order to try giving representation to the missing confessions. Anyway, this was a tactical choice. It is not possible to reduce the social and political capital of the strikers (and more generally of militants of any kind) to their confession.20 In fact, the choice of a Christian president was made to underline the heterogeneous composition of the strikers and to reaffirm the social aim of the mobilization. Nevertheless, the need for a political support to face FPM political opposition and pressure brought to a progressively growing influence of AM on the movement. Strikers who were not identifying themselves as AM supporters, but just as daily-workers strikers, started to claim their AM affiliation. New politically-oriented actors inside the movement started to try and sabotage the trans-confessional and trans-political movement. In the same way, political opponents started trying to paint the movement as distorted by AM more than as a genuine workers' struggle. The Christian president Loubnan Makhoul resigned from his office at the end of the last strike that started in August 2014 and lasted until December of the same year.
Goals of the DWC:
The main goal of the DWC since its foundation is to provide a full-time position in EDL to all the company's daily-workers. In 2011-2012 and 2014, at the occasion of the two longest periods of protest staged by the DWC, the main goals were:
- To abolish the reform program concerning the outsourcing of the distribution service of EDL and, instead, to integrate all daily-workers into the company as permanent workers.
- In the case where the reform program would be kept, to temporarily employ all the daily-workers with the Distributor Service Providers in anticipation of their integration into the company after private companies contracts' end.21
- To set up a program for the integration of all the daily-workers into EDL.
- To integrate daily-workers into EDL without passing by public limited competitions.22
- In the case that the integration of daily-workers would pass by limited public competitions, to increase the number of posts since EDL refused to hire more than 897 out of the 2000 daily-workers.
- To assure the payment of indemnities concerning the years of service provided by daily-workers who would not be integrated into EDL.
Modes of action and strategy
Modes of action:
DWC's modes of actions have been diversified. In order to carry daily-workers’ claims, the committee has chosen to exploit every means available without refusing quite hard approaches when needed. The main weapon adopted to protest has been the strike. 93 days of strike characterized the first protest in 2011-2012 and 120 days the second of 2014. During the strikes, the protesters occupied the EDL headquarter in Beirut and set up tents in the building preventing anyone to step in.23 Only some engineers were allowed to sporadically enter the EDL main office in order to assure the minimal functioning of the national electrical utility. As for the “hard approach”, strikers blocked the highway located behind the EDL headquarters several times creating big traffic problems in the capital.24 A worker tried to self-immolate since he feared for his future and that of his family.25 Similarly, daily-workers striking in the South, in the North and in the East of Lebanon adopted these means of action: they occupied the secondary offices and set up tents within or outside the buildings owned by the company. A recent strike of contract-workers of EPS, a subsidiary company of the Dabbas Group which also owns NEUC, started in April 2015 after the sacking of around 10 employees. In this occasion the EDL local office was occupied and tensions between employees and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) started when the policemen tried to clear them.26 This was just the last example of many violent tensions: blocking the roads, burning tires, and disputes with the ISF or local shop owners have been frequent degenerations of the daily-workers' mobilizations.27 But, violent means were what brought the daily-workers issue to the televisions, to the newspapers and, subsequently, to citizens and to the politicians' attention.
As we already underlined, the politicization of the movement has succeeded rather than preceded the emergence of the movement. For this reason, it is maybe advisable to try to read daily-workers violent mode of actions not only as a degeneration of methods, but also from the point of view of angry workers trying to make their voices heard. The interviewed leaders immediately condemned these methods when we asked them. Nevertheless, they underlined that nobody would pay attention to their grievances if they had not employed drastic methods to carry their claims. On the other hand, we should consider that some workers have a military experience in the army and that they have been fighting during the civil war. The “hard ways” adopted and the experience needed to organize and control the violence can then find a precedent in some workers' career. The “hard ways” were, anyway, capable of bringing the daily-workers issue into the public attention. When the movement arrived to the media and public’s attention, politics got increasingly involved. The four-month occupation of the EDL's headquarter could not be held up by the workers without political protection. During the night not more than 20 or 30 people used to sleep in the building. It would have been easy to clear them up if desired. The strategy of the DWC in the beginning of the movement in 2011 and at its revival in 2014 was to bring the workers' issue to the people and the political class’ attention in order to be heard and to find external support. Tweets, Facebook pages and a close cooperation with the media following the protest have been the main public strategy of the DWC together with the demonstrations. On a more concealed level, DWC's strategy has been to find political support where it was available. The first tries were based on a trans-confessional research of support. But, progressively, AM was able to infiltrate the movement and to make use of it in the political arena. AM was not, anyway, the only winner in this hidden game. DWC was able to reconvert AM support and to obtain protection both during the strikes and during the establishment of an integration program of the daily-workers into EDL.
Effect on public policy
The daily-workers’ movement was able to mobilize a Parliamentary debate concerning the vote on the law for the establishment of limited public competitions for the daily-workers of EDL. The Civil Service Council set up limited public competitions for the daily-workers on the 9th of December 2014 relying on the decree number 7989 of the 14th April 2012. Today, limited public competitions are taking place: 897 daily-workers will be integrated into the company. The DWC was asking for the integration of 2400 daily workers, but was forced to accept a less important number of recruitments. EDL informally promised to gradually recruit some others 400 daily-workers as soon as part of its civil servants will retire.
AM has started closely following the daily-workers “affaire” soon after its beginning in 2011 and more effectively in 2012. We do not know if AM financed the DWC directly or indirectly. Anyway, AM support was effective and did not interrupt yet. AM provided political protection to the strikers enabling their occupation of the EDL headquarters which lasted 4 months keeping the ISF out of the building. Today, AM organizes free classes to prepare the daily-workers to the competitions to access the civil servant position of EDL. These classes are opened to everyone and not only to AM supporters.
Civil society support:
Among the civil society organizations, the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats des Ouvriers et des Employés au Liban (FENASOL) and the Lebanese Labor Watch (LLW) have followed the movement and given specialized support especially on legal matters.
Trade unions support:
National trade unions like the Confédération Général des Travailleurs Libanais (CGTL) did not support the movement. To a great extent, the CGTL actually opposed itself to the achievement of workers goals, also if on a concealed level. Many reasons can explain this lack of support. The main one is that the CGTL fears the development of autonomous workers' movements which could threaten its monopoly in the trade unions' sector. The same posture has been adopted by the CGTL in other – autonomous – workers’ movements in the last 4 years. On this point, it is worth mentioning the movement of Spinneys' employees of 2012 who fought for the creation of a trade union. In this case, Spinneys' workers did not find support in the CGTL and developed other means to reach their goal. Here too, the civil society played an important role in protecting the insurgent employees, but the main struggle was fought by the workers themselves who had to deal and to go beyond the repression of the company on the one handand the political support that some notables offered to Spinneys on the other.28 On this occasion too, CGTL only showed its absence.
- Number of EDL daily-workers around 1995: about 500.
- Number of EDL daily-workers before the movement of 2011: about 2400.
- Eligible number of EDL daily-workers to the civil servant position in the company through the limited public competitions: between 1500 and 1800.
Remarks on EDL daily-workers eligible for the company:
Among the nearly 2400 daily-workers a hardly quantifiable number has passed the legal age to apply for the civil servant position. In addition to that, part of the daily-workers were working illegally while receiving a military pension: these workers will subsequently not be able to apply for the post of civil servants. Some other workers have felony convictions and will not be able to apply for the full-employment status as well. Relying on the numbers that have been given to us by the DWC representatives, only between 1500 and 1800 daily-workers will be eligible for the civil servant position.
Remarks on the adherents to the DWC:
The adherence to the DWC is informal. No inscription method has been set up and no card delivered. For this reason it is not possible to give statistics about DWC's adherents. What can be taken into account to understand the influence of the DWC on the daily-workers is that when the DWC organized the protest in 2014, almost every daily-worker was on strike.29
Remarks on the confessional compositions of the daily-workers:
As we already underlined the Shiite Muslims are more numerous than their Sunnite, Druze and Christian colleagues. The Muslim part of the daily-workers amounts to the double of the Christian part. It seems that the main reason for the opposition of the FPM to the integration of the daily-workers revolved around this point: if all the daily-workers are employed, EDL will be a prevailing Muslim utility. In fact, the recruitment of all the daily-workers would change the confessional balance of the company. The Syndicat des Employés de l'Électricité du Liban (SEDL) opposed itself to the recruitment program for this same reason: if the daily-workers become permanent employees, the confessional balance of the board of the SEDL would, most probably, be changed. It is possible to foresee that, for an unwritten rule, the limited competitions which will integrate 897 daily-workers will be biased by the necessity of the maintaining of the confessional balance of EDL and that the number of the recruited Christian daily-workers will match the number of the Muslims also if Muslims represent the majority among the candidates to the civil servant position.
Before 2011: The DWC status has been mostly dormant until 2011. Some minor strikes have been staged before this date but with little following of the daily-workers and without tangible achievements concerning the claims raised (on this point see also the Notable events section).
Starting 2011: The DWC was able to gather the daily-workers into two long-run protests (2011-2012 and 2014) which led to the establishment of limited competitions to access the full-time position in EDL. In 2011-2012 and 2014 the DWC achieved part of its goals and was able to impose itself as the representative of all the EDL daily-workers (here too, see the Notable events section).
No official website has been created. Many groups were created on the social networks. The president of the DWC gave us a Facebook page, which no longer exists.30 A closed group also exists on Facebook.31
The daily-workers always sought for permanent positions in EDL. To access a permanent position is not only a material matter though. It is important to note that for the daily-workers to be granted a permanent job, not only means to reach a permanent labor status, but also to be given the social recognition for the services they have provided during several years for the company. The majority of the daily-workers have been operating in EDL for 10 or 15 years and some of them have started working for the electrical national utility more than 20 years ago. They have constantly worked side by side with their permanent colleagues, which gave them the feeling of being indispensable for the company just as their permanent colleagues are. Nevertheless, their job was never formalized and so was never socially recognized.
The muyāwimīn have participated to the reconstruction of EDL after the civil war (1975-1990), they have fulfilled the social significance of the job they have been operating: reconstruct the electrical network and bring back electricity to the citizens first, maintain the network later. On the individual level, they were young and mostly unskilled when they entered the company. Now they have a family, they have bought a car, taken loans, have specialized in the field and cannot start a new life and acquire the skills for a new job easily.
All these remarks can help to understand the creation of the conditions of a social resentment among the daily-workers. But to understand why they rebelled in 2011 and not before, there is another essential element that must be taken into consideration. Their work has always been informal, but it has never been interrupted. In other words, paradoxically, daily-work has never been “precarious”, but always stable. What has always remained precarious has been the social condition, the salary or, more generally, the labor status of the daily-workers. But work itself was never precarious: everyday there was something to do. Everyday they could get paid. On the other hand, the conditions under which they had to work were extremely disadvantageous and hardly tolerable. Now, what made it bearable to work under these conditions was the promise of a permanent position: to access the civil servant status one day or another. This promise had been done and broken several times during the last years.
When they started working for EDL, and this thanks to direct or indirect political recommendations, daily-workers were promised to be integrated into the company by their “magnates”: “within a month, within two, within a year and then tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow...”. But this never happened: “they (notables and politicians) didn't keep their promises!”.
Because they were working hard, their permanent supervisors or colleagues promised them to “tell a word to the director” in order to integrate them. This never happened either. But work was there and they held on waiting for the integration into the company's permanent staff.
What changed in 2011 was essentially that the company wanted to demolish the daily-work system of labor that it had established and slowly implemented during several years and to substitute it with a definitive “externalization” of its labor force through three main private companies. While before 2011, the outsourcing system was mostly a fake one – subcontractor companies were mostly “front men” created to register the daily-workers on the payroll –, with the reform program promoted by the Minister Gebran Bassil, the entire distribution sector of EDL would be delegated to subcontractor companies which would bring their own employees.32 This meant that daily-workers would lose their jobs and would never access to the civil servant position. It was in this general climate that the DWC was able to start a four years-long protest.
Little demonstrations were staged by the DWC which was not able to impose itself as the representative of the daily-workers. A remarkable two-day strike was organized in July 2006 by the DWC and was followed by part of the workers, but the outbreak of the July 2006 war put a stop to the protest.33 The main goal of the strike was to obtain the full-time position for all the daily-workers.
Two main periods of protest characterized the period of 2011-2015. The first long protest organized by the DWC first started in 2011, but the actual strike movement was staged in 2012 and lasted 93 days. On this occasion, the DWC was able to impose its representativeness to the daily-workers which started identifying with the committee for the first time. The main goal of the mobilization was to get full-employment positions inside EDL and to block the outsourcing program concerning the distribution service of EDL promoted by the Ministry of Energy and Water. The DWC could bring the daily-workers’ issue to the public arena and force the parliament to start working on a law concerning their recruitment (also see the Ideology & goals section in this point). The protesters staged strikes and sit-ins in front of the EDL headquarter in Beirut and blocked the main roads of the capital by burning tires.
In 2014 a second long-run protest was staged by the DWC in order to force EDL and the Ministry of energy and water to set up the recruitment program of the daily-workers who had been temporarily employed by the Distributor Service Providers KVA, NEUC and BUTEC (also see the Ideology & goals section on this point). On this occasion, strikers occupied the EDL headquarters (from August to December) and came back to work only after a deal concerning the establishment of limited competitions to access the civil servant position was reached. Also in 2014, the protest caused traffic problems in the capital since the strikers burnt tires on the Corniche al-Nahr main road. Daily-workers all throughout Lebanon followed the strike and cut the roads. Daily-workers nationally struck trying not to affect the electrical distribution activity. Nevertheless, the electrical line underwent some more cuts than the usual ones. The payment of the bills was interrupted since collectors were daily-workers. Major dysfunctions of the EDL activity were caused by the protest, which showed the significance of the daily-work in the company.
- *. The founding date of the DWC is unclear. According to Yazan al-Saadi, the committee was founded in 2004: see: Yazan al-Saadi, "Electricity workers in Lebanon, and the fate of labour, national development, and governance", Civil Society Knowledge Center, Lebanon Support, June 18th, 2015, available at: https://civilsociety-centre.org/content/electricity-workers-lebanon-and-... accessed July 1st, 2015]. Nevertheless, we are not sure of this data. Our sources into the DWC back the foundation of the committee to 2000 or to 2002. It is most probably between these two dates that an informal core of the committee was created and started operating.
- 1. In Arabic: مجلس الخدمة المدنية. The CSC official website is available at:http://www.csb.gov.lb/ [last accessed July 1st, 2015].
- 2. Many examples could be given on this point. In the context of this paper, only the energy sector will be taken into consideration. Daily-workers in both the water and electricity sectors outnumber their civil servants colleagues: the National Water Company of South-Lebanon employs directly 243 permanent workers and indirectly 589 daily-workers; the National Water Company of Beirut and Mount Lebanon employs directly 558 permanent workers and indirectly 750 daily-workers. As for the Électricité du Liban, it employs 1,800 permanent workers and employs indirectly 2200 daily-workers. Source: المرصد اللبناني لحقوق العمال والموظفين, “المياومون في الإدارات العامة والمصالح المستقلة والبلديات: انتهاك لحقوق العمال وتجاوز للقوانين", July 2013, Publication of المرصد اللبناني لحقوق العمال والموظفين, Beirut.
- 3. Only very rarely have national utilities employed and employ directly daily-workers. Anyway, daily-work is not contemplated by the law, which (should) legally forbid national utilities from hiring them.
- 4. Also if national utilities and public administrations do not control de jure the daily-workers, they actually control them de facto.
- 5. "String pulling“: "واسطة صغيرة” in the interview. Interview with a worker of the EDL.
- 6. Ex-contract workers of EDF passed from a monthly salary which was between $800 and $1,000 to a daily salary which could reach $400 if they worked 24 days per month. Of course, the new informal (and illegal) status also meant that they were no longer protected under a labor agreement: they lost the social protection benefits and were no longer covered by any form of assurance or indemnity.
- 7. This is according to some interviewed workers who took their function at the EDL before the year 2000.
- 8. Interview with a worker of EDL.
- 9. c.f. footnote *
- 10. We must consider that nearly 2,000 of the approximate 2,400 daily-workers operate in the distribution service of EDL.
- 11. KVA SAL is a consortium of three companies whose core business lies in management of public utilities. KVA is the electric Distribution Service Provider (DSP) in charge of the electrical distribution in the Beirut Municipality and Bekaa Valley service areas. The National Electrical Utilities Company (NEUC) is a subsidiary company of the Dabbas Group. It is in charge of the distribution of electrical utilities in the South Lebanon region. BUTEC Utility Services (BUS) has been commissioned by EDL to maintain and operate the electricity distribution grid in the area of Northern Mount Lebanon and North Lebanon.
- 12. In Arabic: مقدمي الخدمات.
- 13. In the beginning, the DSP accepted, after political pressure, to hire 30% of the 2000 daily-workers. After a 93 days strike of the daily-workers, the companies were forced to hire each and all of the precarious workers.
- 14. Among the daily workers, 2000 out of 2400 operate in the distribution service and have been employed by the three DSP in 2012. The other 400 daily-workers are employed by TRICOM SARL, a subsidiary of Matta holding, and operate in the administration and in the financial service of EDL.
- 15. In Arabic: مباراة محصورة. The limited public competitions concern only previously daily-workers who were already operating in EDL.
- 16. Find here the Électricité du Liban official website:http://www.edl.gov.lb/Maina.htm [last accessed July 1st, 2015].
- 17. In this paper we will continue to designate the workers as “daily-workers” also if, since 2012, they have been employed as contract-workers by the DSP. This choice is due to the fact that the same workers continue to call themselves muyāwimīn (daily-workers) and that the DWC has kept the name it took at the beginning of the strike in 2011. Nevertheless, we must consider that their labor and social status has changed since they have been employed by the DSP. Their salaries are presently indexed on a monthly base (they passed from a $400 monthly salary as daily-workers to a $1,500/2,000 one with the DSP), they are registered at the social security through the companies, they enjoy paid vacations and employment benefits resulting from their labor contract.
- 18. Our data is based on a recent field investigation and on a wide analysis of the press.
- 19. Interview with a worker of the EDL.
- 20. In the context of this paper we cannot discuss more deeply this theoretical topic. Nonetheless, we want to underline the necessity of documented and contextualized fieldwork in order to try to understand the reasons behind militant commitment and the nature of social movements.
- 21. When the outsourcing program was presented, the DSP refused to hire all the daily-workers. After some political pressures, the DSP accepted to employ only 30% of the daily-workers. With the 2011-2012 protest, the DWC fought to obtain the temporary employment of all the daily-workers until the editing of an integration schedule.
- 22. c.f. footnote 14.
- 23. "EDL workers to stage new strike", The Daily Star, English, October 30th, 2014, available at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Business/Local/2014/Oct-30/275829-edl-workers-to-stage-new-strike.ashx [last accessed May 5th, 2015].
- 24. "Les journaliers de l'EDL bloquent l'axe de la corniche du Fleuve", L'Orient le Jour, French, November 18th, 2014, available at: http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/896641/les-journaliers-de-ledl-bloquent-laxe-de-la-corniche-du-fleuve.html [last accessed May 5th, 2015].
- 25. Nizar Hassan, "Contract workers urged to end 'riot'", The Daily Star, English, August 26th, 2014, available at: https://www.dailystar.com.lb/ArticlePrint.aspx?id=268479&mode=print [last accessed May 5th, 2015].
[last accessed April 11th, 2015].
- 27. "EDL workers scoff at threats of firing", The Daily Star, English, available at: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2014/Aug-25/268330-edl-workers-scoff-at-threat-of-firings.ashx [last accessed May 5th, 2015].
- 28. On the Spinneys conflict see: Scala M., « Clientélisme et contestation : l’exemple de la mobilisation des travailleurs de Spinneys au Liban », Confluences Méditerranée, 2015/1 n° 92, p. 113-123.
- 29. c.f. footnote 16.
- 30. Facebook page, available at: https://www.facebook.com/MyawmynWjbatAlakraFyMwsstKhrbaLbnan?fref=ts
- 31. https://www.facebook.com/groups/320400701310312/?fref=ts
- 32. The outsourcing system which was working before 2011 was mostly – but not totally – a fake one. Except some 3 or 4 companies which were actually furnishing a service to EDL, the rest of the subcontractors were only employed to register daily-workers on the payroll and to make them rotate between a subcontractor and another with a quarterly frequency. These companies were essentially employed only for the “rotation” matter. In fact, the turn-over of the enrolled daily-workers from a company to another was necessary because after three months (which is the probationary period) workers must be registered to the social security. The system was, therefore, thought and created precisely to avoid paying and granting social security to the workers. Thus, daily-workers had not any kind of relation with their legal employers and worked, de facto, for EDL. Also if their employer would change every three months, their work would continue normally, without interruptions. Daily-workers could not feel precarious after 10-15 or 20 years of work under these same conditions. The reform program proposed to the Parliament in 2012 would break this well run system.
- 33. Interview with a worker of EDL.