BEIRUT: MP Bahia Hariri asked striking teachers Wednesday to end their boycott of grading official exams and reaffirmed the pledge made by her nephew, former prime minister Saad Hariri, that the new rank and salary scale will be passed by Parliament soon.
Bahia Hariri made the request at a meeting held in Parliament with members of the teachers’ Unions Coordination Committee (UCC) in the presence of Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, according to the Voice of Lebanon radio station.
The UCC was supposed to have a meeting with Saad Hariri later Wednesday, but the latter had to travel to Saudi Arabia to discuss a $1 billion Saudi grant to the Lebanese Army.
Bahia Hariri, also member of the Parliament’s education committee, was quoted as saying that the former PM asked her to assure the UCC that the salary scale “will be passed.”
She said that she will be contacting the minister of finance in that regard very soon, according to Voice of Lebanon.
The radio station said the UCC has expressed complete trust in Saad Hariri’s promise, but is seeking a suitable scenario before Saturday for ending their boycott, while receiving a frank commitment on holding the Parliament session.
The UCC appeared to be adamant on maintaining pressure on politicians over the salary scale. Teachers staged a sit-in near Parliament earlier Wednesday, vowing not to budge on their decision to continue the boycott until their demands are met.
The head of the syndicate of private school teachers, Nemeh Mahfoud, decried what he called the “disgraceful treatment” of teachers pushing for their rights during a protest staged Tuesday outside the Education Ministry.
“We do not accept such odious behavior against teachers, whereby certain unionists were beaten up in front of the ministry,” Mahfoud told the crowd in Riad al-Solh Square, a few blocks from Parliament.
“This is militia-style conduct by the ministry, not to mention that teachers have been threatened and warned against continuing the boycott," he added.
“Only when Speaker [Nabih] Berri calls for a session to pass the new salary scale, and only then, will we start correcting the exams,” he said.
The salary scale issue has dragged on for several years, with progress further slowed this summer by boycott of Parliament by Christian and March 14 MPs over the presidential void.