BEIRUT: Private schools across Lebanon will resume classes Monday, the head of the Private Teachers Association Nehme Mahfoud said Sunday, a day after negotiations with civil servants and public school teachers failed to end their strike.
“We will change our protesting style and adopt other methods that do not harm students,” said Mahfoud following a meeting of private school teachers.
However, public schools and some government offices will remain shut, in commitment to the Union Coordination Committee’s call to keep open-ended the strike they started two weeks ago over their demand that a Cabinet-endorsed wage hike be referred to Parliament.
According to Mahfoud, teachers can give their classes in the morning so as not to disrupt the student’s academic year, and demonstrate in the afternoon.
“We can still teach the students and protest in the afternoon,” Mahfoud told reporters.
Mahfoud said that his association had not abandoned the UCC, adding that the private sector differs from the public one.
“We haven’t stepped out of the Union Coordination Committee… However, the boss in the private sector is different from the public one, it is a direct manager and not the state,” he said.
He added that his step came at the recommendations of private school teachers across Lebanon and at the request of President Michel Sleiman, who pledged to tackle the new wage scale during the first cabinet session after his return from an upcoming African tour.
Not all private schools in Lebanon have committed to the strike that has paralyzed the country for some two weeks now.
However, the nationwide strike has crippled government offices and schools for 12 consecutive days, in a bid by the UCC to pressure the Cabinet to refer the new pay scale to Parliament.
“The strike is still on and there has been no progress on the issue of the new salary scale for public sector employees,” Gharib, who heads the UCC, told reporters Saturday after talks with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail in Beirut.
During a chat with reporters after the meeting Saturday, Mikati, said he had asked the unions to suspend the strike until March 21, when a Cabinet session would finalize the draft law and refer it to Parliament.
“I gave them my commitment that talks on the salary scale would continue during a March 21 Cabinet session to be headed by the president and asked them to suspend the strike until we have the results [from the discussions],” he said.