UCC predicts 1M people at next strike

(The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: The head of the Union Coordination Committee urged lawmakers Tuesday to adopt the salary scale, vowing to take escalatory measures if the government does not respond to the committee’s demands.

“We are preparing for a larger battle that includes the whole Lebanese population and not just public employees and teachers,” Hanna Gharib said during a meeting held with teachers and public employees in the building of the vehicle registration authority in Dikwaneh.

“Lebanese people are aware of their rights and around 100,000 took to the streets today. But next time, over a million employees will join the strike,” he said.

The meeting aimed at discussing ways of gathering all parties concerned with the salary scale issue for them to join their efforts and reach their objectives.

Earlier in the day, Gharib told a rally outside the Finance Ministry VAT headquarters in Beirut that public employees were fighting a battle for their “existence” in Lebanon.

“They [politicians] don’t want to give us full rights; they want to torpedo the salary scale and hit the retirement system while we are fighting a battle for existence,” he said.

“It’s no longer an issue of a salary scale. ... The huge scandal is that there is a scheme, at the state level, to liquidate what has remained of the social welfare state, its employees, its system and public employment terms,” Gharib added, vowing to stand firm on the UCC’s demands.

Gharib called for a gathering Thursday aimed at setting up a “social alliance” to safeguard the official exams’ certification and the rights of employees and teachers.

Teachers are boycotting the grading of official exams to pressure the legislature into endorsing the hike.

The UCC had called for a two-day strike Tuesday and Wednesday, a week after the protests were postponed due to security concerns.

The union has held scores of unsuccessful protests over the past months to push Parliament into approving a 121 percent pay raise.

Officials and economists have warned that a 121 percent salary increase could further exacerbate economic problems.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 02, 2014, on page 5.




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