Lebanese trade union calls for boycott of supermarket ‘mafias’

Lebanese trade union calls for boycott of supermarket ‘mafias’
Lebanon's economic crisis has caused extreme poverty across the country, prompting one trade union to take drastic action.
2 min read
07 April, 2021
Lebanon's economic crash is hitting its people hard [AFP/Getty]

A Lebanese trade union called for a week-long boycott of supermarkets on Monday in a bid to combat supermarket “mafias” who it says are exploiting the country’s failing economy, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

The Movement of Secondary Contractors gave a statement blaming supermarket proprietors and merchants for increased food costs.

The union says they have been monopolising subsidised items including staples like rice and oil. 

Read more: Lebanon hikes bread price for third time in nine months

It also accuses them of withholding the best produce from shelves and fixing expiration dates.

The boycott is to run until Sunday evening with the movement asking all to join in, though it specifically names groups like teachers, in whose sector it organises.

Other citizens have recently called for boycotts of chicken and eggs after they discovered merchants were making a 100 percent profit on them.

In a further sign of public desperation, the authorities are dealing with repeated fighting at shops and officers have even been brought in pre-emptively to avoid this, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

The country is in the grips of its biggest financial meltdown since its 1975–1990 civil war, a collapse predicted by many given years of impossibly high public debt and exacerbated by last August's Beirut port blast.

The Lebanese pound has sunk by 90 percent of its value versus the US dollar over the past 18 months.

Although the exchange rate is officially set at one dollar to 1,507 pounds, the black market has it at approximately 15,000.

The World Food Programme said overall food prices more than quadrupled in 2020, while the cost of essentials has nearly tripled since October 2019.

This has seen a tripling of extreme poverty in the country since 2019, from eight to 23 percent, according to the United Nations.

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