UCC threatens to strike June 7 if salary hike not implemented

Civil servants and public school teachers rally outside the Tourism Ministry in Hamra, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Civil servants and public school teachers threatened Friday to observe an open-ended strike on June 7 if lawmakers again fail to endorse the controversial salary hike bill.

The Union Coordination Committee, which has spearheaded the campaign for a wage hike over the past two years, also said that strikes and sit-ins would be staged at most government department buildings.

“We are giving you the last chance,” the UCC said in a statement, addressing MPs.

“Either you pass the wage hike before June 6, or we will paralyze the public sector and boycott the official exams,” the UCC said.

The UCC called for sit-ins on June 2 at 10 a.m. outside local education institutions, on June 6 at 9 a.m. at the Education Ministry and on June 7 near the General Administration of Technical Teaching building.

The strike will include all state departments the Grand Serail offices and other municipal institutions.

The statement called for the elimination of all articles related to employment contracts in the Parliament’s draft wage hike law. It also rejected any taxes on the middle and lower class to fund the wage hike.

The committee also addressed students who were concerned with the boycott of exams, saying that their fears were legitimate and understandable, but that Parliament was responsible for the consequences of not passing the legislation.

The UCC Thursday called on teachers and administrative staff to stop preparations for official school examinations. The boycott includes the proctoring of exams, creating questions and correcting the tests.

The UCC said Friday that unions “totally reject” the elimination of the official exams, adding that the tests should only be postponed until the wage hike is passed.

Parliament was not able to convene Tuesday for a session scheduled to debate the wage hike, failing to achieve quorum. Many Christian MPs are boycotting sessions as long as the presidency remains vacant. Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the session until June 10.

The UCC’s announcement means that official exams will almost certainly be delayed.

Education Minister Elias Bou Saab warned Tuesday that the country would “enter a crisis” if Berri did not move up the date for the session.

Bou Saab urged MPs to consider the salary scale a matter of “utmost importance” for the “national interest” after Christian lawmakers said they would not discuss any issue aside from the presidential elections unless it was of exceptionally high importance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 31, 2014, on page 1.




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