the Lebanese between lost dreams and limited salaries (Reportage)

AA / Beirut

In Lebanon, this year’s Labor Day carries a double economic and social burden, just like in previous years, in light of the country’s worst crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990.

This Sunday, May 1, International Labor Day, Lebanon is experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history, with the collapse of its local currency (the lira), a shortage of medicines, fuel and other basic necessities, as well as a sharp decline in the purchasing power of its citizens.

** Insufficient salary

The saleswoman, Nourchan Harb (24), from the city of Rahba al-Akaria (north), who has worked for a long time in a clothing store in the city of Halba, does not consider May Day to be a labor day, “this holidays are not they mean nothing, none of the workers hear it, “he said in a statement released to the Anadolu Agency.

The young woman confided: “The situation in Lebanon is very difficult for the workers, my salary is barely enough for my transport costs to go to work”.

Last year the price of a gallon of petrol in Lebanon was around 39,000 pounds (26 dollars), while today it has reached 500,000 pounds (333 dollars), parallel to the collapse of the national currency, where one dollar is worth 27 thousand Lebanese pounds. , whereas previously it was only worth £ 1,500.

Nourchan points out that “people don’t often buy new clothes, which has a huge impact on the industry,” explaining that the purchase of clothes has become annual.

The 20-year-old reveals that her ambition was to own a clothing store, but ended up being hired in a boutique.

“I really like this job, but the bad economic situation prevents us from realizing our ambitions and our dreams, because we cannot make any progress and, as workers, we cannot guarantee our life or our future,” he said.

“We will return to living in luxury as before,” said the Lebanese, hoping that the situation in the country will change after the legislative elections scheduled for May 15, 2022.

Many Lebanese believe that the legislative elections will produce a new political class that will lead to reforms in the country to improve the standard of living, which other Lebanese do not see, considering that the elections will consolidate the power of the ruling class and reproduce the same politicians, without change. radicals.

** Labor Day “a curse”

Abdallah Al-Zoubi experiences the same suffering as Nourchan, at 38, owner of a tire shop in the north of the country.

Al-Zoubi describes Labor Day as a “curse”, not a party.

Labor Day is a public holiday in Lebanon, when all official services, administrations and private shops are closed, but some traders prefer not to close, hoping to sell more goods.

The young man claims that the Lebanese worker is today in a miserable situation, whatever his salary, he will not be able to live in dignity.

After the collapse of the national currency against the dollar, the prices of all foodstuffs, medicines and other basic products have soared, at a time when wages in Lebanese pounds have remained unchanged, which has prevented citizens from to be able to satisfy all their needs.

And speaking of his work, the Lebanese reveals that “the new car tire is no longer needed on the market, because the citizen cannot pay in dollars, so the used tire is the master of the market in Lebanon today”, before continuing. , “In recent years more than 50 customers have entered the shop a day, today their number does not exceed 5.

“Our ambition has become for the country to return to the way it was before, so that we can live well,” said the 30-year-old, wishing to resolve the exchange rate issue and stabilize it.

The Akkar native told the Anadolu Agency that “Labor Day is about giving the worker his rights, which means that the worker can get medical care, food and educate their children, without thinking about running away. irregularly from his country “.

Last Sunday a boat of illegal immigrants sank off the coast of Tripoli (north), killing several people.

It was not the first incident in Lebanon in recent years. After the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, illegal immigration was almost limited to displaced Syrians. However, Lebanon has entered a difficult economic crisis, which has led to an increase in the number of Lebanese who have resorted to this phenomenon, despite its great risks.

** Increase in unemployment

At a time when part of the Lebanese are still working with wages that are not enough for them, most of them, especially young people, languish at home without finding work.

There are no precise and official statistics in Lebanon that can determine the unemployment rate.

However, Mohammad Chamseddine, a researcher with the International Information Company, told the Anadolu Agency that the unemployment rate in Lebanon today is around 38%, up from 32% last year.

The Lebanese just want their country to get back “as it was before”, so that their business can run smoothly, that they can secure their livelihood and that of their families, and regain hope of fulfilling their dreams.

* Translated from Arabic by Hend Abdessamad

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