BEIRUT: Civil servants and teachers will observe an unprecedented weeklong strike starting Thursday, threatening to cripple the public sector over amendments to the draft wage hike law.
“The Union Coordination Committee will hold a nationwide strike starting May 9 and continuing to May 14 in all public sector offices, schools, colleges, and ministries,” head of the UCC Hanna Gharib said in a televised news conference Wednesday.
He also said that the UCC, which has spearheaded dozens of protests in favor of the draft law, would also hold a protest Thursday at noon outside the Grand Serail.
“We also recommend to teachers unions to boycott correcting final examinations and monitoring of such exams,” he added.
The UCC is protesting revisions made to a draft law to increase public sector salaries, with Gharib saying that the new salary scale should “preserve rather than harm workers’ rights.”
“The salary scale is our right and such a right cannot be compromised regardless of the circumstances,” he said, reiterating the union’s demand to increase the salaries by 121 percent retroactively back to July 2012.
Earlier in the day, Speaker Nabih Berri called for a legislative session on May 14 to discuss and possibly approve the bill.
The parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing the draft law handed Berri its final review earlier this week after it amended the bill by reducing the total funding from $1.9 billion to $1.2 billion.
The lawmakers also agreed to raise the value added tax from 10 to 11 percent and increase customs by 1 percent in a bid to generate funds to finance the wage hike.
The amendments came after several lawmakers and private sector representatives have warned against approving the salary scale, saying the increase would tremendously burden the treasury already reeling under heavy losses.
Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government approved the salary scale in 2013 and referred it to Parliament for discussion.