Lebanon faces the threat of Internet blackouts after workers at state-owned Ogero launched an 'open-ended' strike last week.

Workers in the country are taking industrial action as they demand pay increases reflecting the sharp depreciation of the country's currency, which hit a record low last week.

– Getty Images

Reports from Lebanese news publication The National quote Ogero's chairman calling the worker's demands legitimate.

"We are heading to a catastrophe if a deal is not found with the government. The network will completely stop working as our generators will gradually run out of fuel," said Imad Kreidieh, Ogero's chairman.

It's not just expected to impact Ogero, with Kreidieh warning that other operators, Alfa and Touch, will be impacted too.

Ogero workers took similar action last September, again over pay, causing outages.

In 2021, the same operator was hit by outages as the country faced diesel shortages. Ogero was forced to shut down services in parts of the country due to the shortages as Lebanon had to ration electricity. Power shortages remain common.

“Lebanon completely relies on Ogero for its bandwidth, leaving no one exempt from a blackout,” Kreidieh said.

The currency crisis has cut Ogero's yearly budget to the equivalent of $4 million, which Kreidieh says is "barely enough to cover the expenses for the fuel required to operate the Internet relay stations, leading to drastic salary cuts."

Talks with Lebanon's parliament are expected to take place today (March 27) to seek a resolution.

Lebanon's economic crisis dates back to 2019 but hit its lowest point last week when 100,000 Lebanese pounds became worth just $1, down from $67.

It's led employees at Ogero to complain their salaries have become worthless, with inflation estimated to be at more than 180 percent just last month.

“Our salary is worth nothing because of the currency collapse, our demands are the same as other public sector employees: we want our salaries to be tied to the dollar,” said Marwan Halabi, a member of Ogero's Union.

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