Capture and control of the labour movement
in The labour movement in Lebanon
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The second chapter addresses the demands and struggle of the labour movement during the post-war period of reconstruction. The chapter examines the tools and strategies to which the state elite resorted during critical periods to capture the labour movement. This chapter considers labour relations from 1992 – the year billed as the start of the reconstruction period – until the last wage rise in 2012. This salary increase poignantly exemplifies the total co-optation and breakdown of the labour movement. The period witnessed an active movement between 1992 and 1997, followed by fragmentation and total deactivation from the early 2000s onwards. How and why did the labour movement fall apart, and what were the implications for Lebanon’s sectarian-liberal model? The labour movement’s type of demands and actions during the post-war period was largely a continuation of the existing state of affairs before and during the war. What is often perceived as a fall after the civil war was merely exacerbated state intervention and co-optation, the influence of political parties and the effects of liberal economic policies, which had already been in place since independence. The result was a divided movement, and an overall cautious and moderate attitude and action towards the Government. The times of a supposed labour movement revival, such as the 1992–97 period, were mostly fuelled by feuds among members of the elite – one section of the elite managing to manipulate the GCWL to fight one or other of Lebanon’s elite groups.

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