BEIRUT: The Union Coordination Committee, which groups public and private school teachers, set Feb. 19 as the date for launching the long-threatened open-ended strike should the government fail to implement the new salary scale.
The UCC also called Friday for a general assembly meeting to prepare for the strike and to take the necessary steps to ensure its success.
Public school teachers will hold meetings in different areas across the country to coordinate their moves.
The UCC had threatened earlier to cripple the country if the government keeps procrastinating.
There are more than 40,000 public school teachers who are responsible for 150,000 students.
Private school teachers are also invited to join the strike but there is serious doubt that most of them will boycott teaching and correcting exams.
Some civil servants in public departments may join the strike.
In a statement issued to the media, the UCC accused authorities of ignoring the plight of school teachers and public employees, rejecting arguments that a substantial salary increase would cause the budget deficit to increase substantially.
The workers claim that the treasury can easily fund the salary scale if it cuts waste, combats corruption, improves tax collection and ends the state of chaos at Beirut port, where most imported commodities pass through checkpoints without paying any tariffs or value added tax.
The UCC plans to hold sit-ins and demonstrations in front of most government offices and the Grand Serail.
Observers say the UCC can easily muster 30,000 demonstrators if it decides to escalate the situation.
But it is not clear if the UCC can persuade private schools to refrain from giving classes.
Last year, only 40 percent of private school teachers joined a strike.
Unconfirmed reports said that some private Catholic schools have threatened to fire any teacher who boycotts teaching.
The government has denied any intention to shelve the salary scale until the parliamentary elections in June.
Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi estimated the cost of the salary scale at more than $1 billion a year and this amount could reach $1.5 billion in the coming five years if retired employees are included in the scheme.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that the government would not consider any new tax that would cause an enormous burden on low income families.
Safadi had earlier proposed raising the VAT from 10 to 12 percent and increasing taxes on profits of real estate transactions. He also called for increasing the tax on bank deposit interest from 5 to 7 percent.
However, most Cabinet ministers have strongly rejected any new tax under the current economic situation.
The private sector has rejected any attempt to hike taxes or to bow the pressures of the UCC and school teachers.