Despite having decided to begin accepting fresh U.S. dollars as an exclusive payment option, Middle East Airlines (MEA) has not answered its employees’ requests for fair pay, according to Al-Akhbar.
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in Lebanon, MEA employees have been demanding increased wages to counteract the effects of inflation and the worsening crisis, as have countless other employees across the country.
However, these demands have still not been met, even after the company recently announced that it would stop accepting Lebanese pounds for payments.
Instead, Lebanon’s flag carrier has resorted to disbursing an extra salary for some employees every few months.
However, not all members of its staff are benefiting from this extra pay, and this strategy has not succeeded in meeting the general needs of MEA employees, who are facing massive inflation, alongside their fellow Lebanese, with insufficient wages.
Although MEA recently promised to double salaries, this move would still be unfair to some employees who are already not being paid enough to make it past the poverty line.
For instance, a salary of LBP 1 million would become LBP 2 million in such a case, a relatively insignificant increase that amounts to no more than $80 at the current USD/LBP exchange rate.
On the other side, the head of the Middle East Airlines and Affiliates Companies Syndicate, Hussein Abbas, has told Al-Akhbar that MEA is facing financial difficulty due to the decline in passenger activity and the overabundance of employees.
“All Lebanese workers have gone below the poverty line… The company itself is going through difficult financial conditions with the decline in passenger traffic while paying in dollars to employees at its headquarters abroad and for replacing aircraft spare parts,” he said.
He also revealed that the Syndicate was discussing with MEA “more than one offer to increase employee salaries.”
MEA employees are one example of how badly the situation in Lebanon has deteriorated and how low has fallen the purchasing power of the Lebanese residents.
A recent study indicated that the real value of the minimum wage in Lebanon, as specified in Law No. 46/2017, has dropped by around 84% with the devaluation of the Lebanese pound.