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Tobacco growers in Bint Jbeil demand their rights threaten with escalation and fiercely criticize their trade union


Tobacco growers in Shakra (Bint Jbeil) called on tobacco growers to protest and challenge injustice and to reclaim their rights.  Tobacco growers also called for the setting of mechanisms for advocacy which would ensure the redistribution of licenses on the basis of merit, the recognition of tenure, and incorporation in the national social security scheme.  Tobacco growers also asked for a raise in the level of prices of Tobacco delivery, so as to absorb the rising high cost of living by bringing up the price per kilogram to LBP 15,000 as minimum.  Other demands included the reactivation of the Regie Libanaise des Tabacs et Tombacs offices, paying compensation for damages caused by the 2006 Israeli war, purchasing all the harvest by the Regie, abolishing favoritism and parochial practices within the Regie and putting limits to the existing black market.  Tobacco growers threatened that failing to meet their demands will lead to a mass revolt.
In their open letter entitled “from the South to the Nation”, they indicated that more than 11,000 Southern families are involved in the tobacco industry and are suffering from endemic hardship.  They noted that farmers receive a yearly income of USD 3000 from the harvest of 4 dunnums yielding 400 kilos of tobacco per year, an income which is not sufficient to sustain the livelihood of an average family of 5 individuals.  The letter recalls the hard-won battle for setting up a trade union for tobacco growers in Nabatyeh and which cost was in human lives back in 1972 and criticize the weak role of their trade union, in addressing the presently dire situation.  The letter concludes that their trade union has surely been co-opted by the Regie and has, since then, given up on its obligations and commitments.
Source: Al-Mustaqbal 28 November 2013

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