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Teachers, state workers lash back after businessmen criticize pay hike
Lebanese University contract professors hold a protest near the presidential palace in Baabda, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Lebanese University contract professors hold a protest near the presidential palace in Baabda, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: The Union Coordination Committee, a grouping of teachers and state employee associations, defended the new public-sector salary scale approved by the Cabinet and lashed out at the Economic Committees for rejecting the raise.

“The new scale was passed as a result of deteriorating purchasing power after prices and living expenses soared,” the UCC said Friday in response to a statement by the Economic Committees Thursday.

The Committees had warned that the new pay scale would have “catastrophic” consequences on the country.

But the UCC said catastrophe would only result from “the greed and monopolies [practiced] by [members of] the Economic Committees themselves.”

The UCC said economic studies show that accumulated inflation since 1996, when the public wage scale was last amended, exceeded 110 percent.

Reiterating their argument that gradual payment of the raises over a five-year period would reduce their value, the statement called on the government to pay off all increases in one shot.

It added that middle- and low-income individuals are paying more than 80 percent of total taxes, but members of the Economic Committees reap the most benefits from the state.

“The Economic Committees fear that the coordination committees would become an example for other labor unions,” the statement said.

“What’s taking the country to destruction is corruption, squandering and theft of public money.

“It is the illegal occupation of seaside lands and tax evasion,” it added, accusing the private sector of being selective when voicing concern over public expenditures.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 15, 2012, on page 4.
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