BEIRUT – After a week-long strike over security fears, banks in Lebanon will reopen as anti-government protests entered a second month, an employees’ union announced on Monday.
In the wake of the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal, especially in US dollars, customers became more aggressive with the banking sector’s employees, the union said.
Employees went on strike just a few days after resuming operations, which had been halted for a couple of weeks due to the anti-government protests that first erupted on 17 October.
George al-Hajj, chairman of Lebanon’s Federation of Syndicates of Bank Employees, said: “After establishing a security plan, we do not feel necessary to stop the work in the banks.”
Measures included the reinforcement of the security forces’ presence around banks after police guaranteed employees will be well-protected, the union said in a statement.
Al-Hajj’s remarks came after a decision taken by the Association of Banks to limit cash withdrawals to $1,000 per week.
The association imposed restrictions on the current accounts earlier in the day as “temporary measures,” with the aim of “facilitating the daily work of employees in the current conditions of the country and taking into account the interests of customers,” it said in a statement.
US dollar is important in Lebanon as most products are imported and paid for in dollars.
He called on the Lebanese to use the local currency not dollars in a bid to ease the economic crisis the country has gone through.
Lebanon is a heavily indebted country, with bond credit rating business agencies downgrading its ratings.