The Union of the Syndicates of Bank Employees (FedsLEB) officially announced in a public statement on Monday, October 11, 2019, that the banking sector will be on strike, suspending working hours and daily operations as of Tuesday, November 12, “until calm is restored” and “the banking sector resumes normal operations.”
The official statement, issued immediately after the emergency meeting held earlier that day, publically stated the following:
“The banking sector has witnessed (over the past week) an unprecedented unstable situation which has led to unacceptable working conditions, especially after several bank employees reported being subjected to insults and attacks by clients of the bank, as well as the chaos at several bank branches, which raised fear and discomfort among bank employees who struggled to perform their tasks and duties normally.”
Understandingly, staff and tellers at banks have been at the frontlines of the Lebanese people’s frustrations and inability to access their accounts and make payments more freely. Several clients have also reported that ATMs at multiple branches are cleared out, and that “they do not have access to their money.”
Banks in Lebanon have taken a blow throughout the revolution, and understandably so. People have struggled to maintain their regular banking operations amidst this very unpredictable time, as well as amidst the currency fluctuation.
That’s in addition to concerns over the instability of the Lebanese Pound vs. U.S. Dollar, imposed on people’s salaries, loans, accounts, and their outgoing payments.
Although the employees of the banks are most definitely not to blame for the current situation, it is a matter of fact that clients’ frustrations and concerns cannot be voiced to anyone else at this point.
Protesters with Lebanese flags in hand stood outside the different branches of the Lebanese Central Bank, demanding that its longtime Governor, Riad Salameh, quits and hands himself over to judicial authorities, as well as provides details of money stolen by the government.
We wish each and every bank employee the time and the freedom to take a stance against and for what they believe in throughout Lebanon’s ongoing revolution and hope the banking sector maintains its integrity during this very critical time for Lebanon and its already struggling people.