BEIRUT: Hundreds of teachers and civil servants protested outside the Grand Serail Wednesday to pressure the government to implement the new wage scale it endorsed earlier this year.
“This sit-in is but a phase of the movement by the Coordination Committee for the implementation of a new wage scale for teachers and the public sector by implementing the agreement reached with Prime Minister Najib Mikati,” Hanna Gharib, head of the Coordination Committee of the Teachers’ Union, told reporters.
The Cabinet failed last week to take action on a new set of salary scales for public sector workers including teachers with President Michel Sleiman criticizing the teachers’ boycott of the grading of final examinations.
The boycott places the educational fate of thousands of students, especially those in their final year, at risk.
Last week, ministers decided to task an expanded ministerial committee with studying the salary scales issue and carrying out “a detailed discussion of the section related to the education sector, which will receive priority in the committee’s work.”
Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi’s proposal for teachers allocates an estimated LL64 billion annually to teachers of secondary school and the third level of vocational school, as well as LL138 billion to elementary, intermediate, higher and vocational education teachers.
In an angry speech outside the Grand Serail, Gharib slammed what he described as the government's stalling tactics which "inflict harm on 600,000 citizens awaiting a decent living."
“You are betting on time and stalling the decision, thinking that we will eventually become tired, but we will never tire,” Gharib fumed.
He also vowed to continue the boycott of final examinations until teachers and public sector employees are covered by the raise, endorsed by the government and applied for the private sector.
Civil servants across the country staged a three-hour strike last week to urge the Cabinet to approve a wage hike for public workers.