This weekend, the Lebanese Confederation of Trade Unions, the main labour union in Lebanon, called for a sit-in to protest the Siniora government’s economic reforms. The action is said to be a first step that could lead to a strike in the country.
The opposition to the government, which has held protests for over five weeks now, has backed the union and has called on all Lebanese to participate in the sit-in in front of the VAT office, a finance ministry building.
Sami Haddad, Lebanon’s economy and trade minister, has called the protests political and has warned against the damage they can do to the country’s war-torn economy. Haddad finds the timing of the sit-in suspicious. According to the finance minister, no changes are to take place until next year, so its questionable that a sit-in is taking place now.
This latest action is yet another indication of how little support the Siniora government has from its own citizens. The sit-in is being organized by a laic workers’ union and is not a Hezbollah-led act. The fact that Michel Aoun, a Christian leader, and Hezbollah supporters have thrown their support for the sit-in does not mean that this opposition is staging it.
Why would it take place now and not in a year, as Sami Haddad would seem to suggest? Because there is still time for the government to adjust its policies listen to its citizens. Because there is momentum in the country, with the sense that citizens do have a voice. Instead of criticizing the sit-in plans, couldnâ€™t Sami Haddad have asked to meet with union leaders to hear them? As it stands, it seems that the Lebanese government is simply not interested in dialogue.
The sit-in is set to take place tomorrow.