BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Civil servants issue ultimatum over wage hike

UCC head Hanna Gharib speaks during a press conference in Beirut.(The Daily Star/File/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: The Union Coordination Committee threatened Friday to start an open-ended general strike if lawmakers do not pass the wage hike before June 6, calling for a series of strikes and protests starting next week.

“We are giving you the last chance,” said UCC’s statement addressing Lebanese MP’s, “either you pass the wage hike before June 6, or we will paralyze the public sector and boycott the official exams.”

The union called for sit-ins on June 2 at 10 a.m. in front of local educational institutions, on June 6 at 9 a.m. in front of the Education Ministry and on June 7 in front of the General Administration of Technical Teaching building.

The general strike will include all state administrations, its governmental palace and its municipalities.

The statement called for the elimination of all articles related to the employment contracts in the parliament’s proposed draft law. It also rejected any taxes that would be imposed on Lebanon’s middle and low classes to pay for the wage hike.

The committee addressed students who are concerned with the exams boycott, saying that their fears were legitimate and understandable, but Parliament was responsible for the consequences of not passing the legislation.

UCC had released a statement Thursday calling on teachers and administrative staff to stop all preparations for official school examinations. The boycott includes the proctoring of exams, setting the questions and correcting the tests.

Friday’s news conference confirmed this call, highlighting that the unions “totally refuse” the elimination of the official exams. Instead, according to the UCC, they should be postponed until the wage hike is passed.

Parliaments failed to convene Tuesday for a session scheduled to debate the wage hike, failing to achieve quorum due to the absence of many March 14 MPs and MP Michel Aoun’s Reform and Change bloc’s lawmakers. Many Christian MPs are boycotting any legislative sessions in Parliament as long as the presidency remains vacant. As a result, Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the discussion of the wage hike until June 10.

The official exam’s delay is almost certain with this announcement from the UCC. If Berri doesn’t move up the date for the legislative session, the country “will enter a crisis,” in the words of Education Minister Elias Bou Saab.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Bou Saab urged MPs to consider the salary scale as one of “utmost importance” and “national interest,” after Christian lawmakers said they would not discuss any issue other than the presidential elections unless it was of exceptionally high importance.

 

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Summary

The Union Coordination Committee threatened Friday to start an open-ended general strike if lawmakers do not pass the wage hike before June 6, calling for a series of strikes and protests starting next week.

The general strike will include all state administrations, its governmental palace and its municipalities.

Parliaments failed to convene Tuesday for a session scheduled to debate the wage hike, failing to achieve quorum due to the absence of many March 14 MPs and MP Michel Aoun's Reform and Change bloc's lawmakers.

As a result, Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the discussion of the wage hike until June 10 .


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