BEIRUT: The Union Coordination Committee is set to stage a mass rally and general strike Wednesday to press Parliament to endorse the controversial new salary scale.
The president of the committee, Hanna Gharib, threatened to gather thousands to protest near the Parliament building Wednesday, urging all public and private schools to observe the strike.
The committee plans to escalate the protest if the MPs do pass the salary hike for government employees and public schoolteachers.
“If our demands are not met soon, we will call for an open strike across the country and urge teachers to boycott the official exams,” a statement from the UCC said.
Previous UCC-organized demonstrations have drawn thousands of participants.
The joint parliamentary committees failed last week to approve MP Ibrahim Kanaan’s proposal to fund the hike through a series of taxes.
MP and Future block member Ghazi Youssef called on Kanaan to withdraw the proposal, describing his plan as unrealistic.
The General Labor Confederation, the Association of Bank Employees and representatives of government employees voiced full support for the demands of the UCC, urging the MPs not to delay the wage hike.
Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil told a UCC delegation that he supported its demands and promised to include the increase in the 2014 draft budget, which his team is currently preparing.
Hezbollah also backed the UCC’s demands, urging Parliament to pass the bill without hesitation.
However, the private sector has warned against attempts to raise taxes to finance a wage hike when the economy is already struggling.
Business leaders stressed that they did not oppose the salary increase for the teachers and government employees but insisted the best way to finance the increase was by cutting waste and reducing unnecessary expenditures.
There is also concern among parents of private school students that any salary increase for teachers could prompt their schools to increase tuition.