BEIRUT: After reaching a late-night deal with the union to allow official exams to begin Friday, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab pressed lawmakers Wednesday to resolve the wage hike issue to end the teachers' strike and ensure the tests were graded.
“I did my job, and now politicians must shoulder their responsibility to find a solution to the exam correction [boycott],” Bou Saab told a local television channel. “I’m not going to face-off with teachers and I’m not willing to pressure them into correcting the exams because they have rights."
Bou Saab said he had agreed with the Union Coordination Committee Tuesday night to postpone official exams for one day in a last-ditch deal that averted a confrontation between the two sides.
The agreement, reached around midnight following a marathon meeting between Bou Saab and UCC officials, came after Parliament failed to discuss the wage hike bill, the UCC’s key demand for holding official tests.
But the correction of exams and announcement of the results were unresolved pending Parliament approval of the salary scale draft law, an aspect both Bou Saab and UCC head Hanna Gharib highlighted.
Future MP Ghazi Youssef slammed Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, accusing him of “toying with politics.”
Youssef, however, said the Future bloc was willing to resume talks on the controversial bill that has caused a split in Lebanon.
"We are always ready to sit down with the finance minister, but unfortunately he is toying with politics while evading his responsibility and putting the blame on others,” Youssef told the Voice of Lebanon radio station. “Future bloc is ready again to look into the details and the figures of the salary scale."
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi hailed Bou Saab’s decision to hold the exams, but dubbed the compromise deal “shameful.”
"Holding exams without correcting them or announcing the results means we continue to use students as hostage," Azzi told Future TV.
“This issue must come to an end,” he said, suggesting that the government hold a “tripartite national dialogue” with employers and trade unions to regulate the right to strike and demonstrate.