BEIRUT: The education minister and the Union Coordination Committee announced Monday that the teachers will not correct official exams, calling on the Parliament to pass the wage hike as demanded.
“It is impossible to correct the exams without the UCC’s consent,” said Elias Bou Saab at a news conference Monday. “I neither have the intention nor the ability [to do this], nor will I attempt to trick the UCC and correct the exams without their consent.”
Bou Saab restated his full support of UCC’s demands, calling on the Parliament to pass the legislation Thursday, the date of its next session.
“It’s very simple: In total we have 1,400,000 student exams to be corrected,” said Bou Saab, “each of these exams needs two teachers to correct it and one director to verify that correction.”
In turn, the UCC’s head Hanna Gharib announced that the committee would not accept any deduction in the wage hike, nor the installment of the hike over several years.
Gharib also stressed on the necessity of preserving "equality" in the wage increase among all public sector employees.
In the event that it is necessary to deduct from the wage hike, Bou Saab called for the deduction of the same percentage from all employees at the same rate, echoing the UCC’s demand for equality.
Gharib explained that since 1996, the cost of living in Lebanon has inflated by 121 percent, which the UCC is demanding be reflected in the new salary scale.
However, since the government has already increased employees’ wages, in 2008 and 2012, Gharib said that those increases should be deducted from the 112 percent to determine the exact percentage of the raise.
Bou Saab also said that he will preserve teachers’ rights, and will not allow any further pressure to be put on them.
“When I spoke about keeping equilibrium between students and teachers, I meant it,” he said.
He also discussed contacting the main political actors in order to enact the salary scale “as soon as possible.”
In this vein, he mentioned a phone call with former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, quoting Siniora as saying that “after all that has happened, it would be unfair not to pass the salary scale.”
Even though Siniora had spoken against the wage hike as a threat to the national economy, he told Bou Saab that “the question is not whether we will give the salary scale or not, but how we will give it.”
Bou Saab also said he had contacted Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, who agreed to provide all the necessary information about the salary scale and ensure the necessary revenues to impliment it.
The education minister had warned Wednesday that if the exams were not graded, lawmakers were the ones to blame. His comments came after the meeting in which he reached the recent agreement with the UCC.
Due to this agreement, UCC’s teachers announced they will proctor the exams, but promised to boycott the grading until the salary scale is passed.
As the necessary quorum was not met, the parliamentary session scheduled to discuss the wage hike last Tuesday was postponed till June 19.