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Lebanon News

Teachers threaten to step up strike action

  • Two Lebanese students take part in a strike by private and public school teachers in front of the government building in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

  • Lebanese teachers carry banners during a rally as they demand higher salaries in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

  • Lebanese protesters shout slogans during a teachers' rally as they demand higher salaries in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

  • Snowman sits in an empty classroom during a teachers strike at Sidon's official secondary school in the southern city of Sidon, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammed Zaatari/The Daily Star)

  • A Lebanese teacher carries a banner during a rally as protesters demand higher salaries in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

  • A man rides a motorcycle as he passes in front of a closed secondary school during a teachers strike in the eastern city of Baalbek, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Nidal Solh/The Daily Star)

  • Lebanese teachers carry banners during a rally as they demand higher salaries in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

  • Lebanese teachers carry banners during a rally as they demand higher salaries in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

  • Hanna Gharib, the head of Secondary Teachers Associations, speaks during a teachers rally in front of the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

  • Lebanese soldiers atop armored vehicles secure the area during a teachers' protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Teachers observed a nationwide strike Thursday and threatened Prime Minister Najib Mikati to escalate their action unless the government revoked an “unjust” pay hikes decision.

“We will escalate our action – strike, demonstration and sit-in – until they revoke their decision and cancel it,” Hanna Gharib, the head of the Union Coordination Committee, warned.

The UCC is a gathering of teachers and public-sector employee unions.

“No to underestimating workers,” Gharib addressed Mikati during a midday demonstration staged by some 4,000 teachers outside the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut.

Head of the private school teachers’ union, Nehme Mahfoud, echoed the remarks of his colleague.

“We will continue demonstrating until our demands are met,” Mahfoud added.

The strike comes as part of general dissatisfaction by labor unions over a recent decision by the government to increase the minimum wage from LL500,000 to LL600,000.

Many political parties, including Hezbollah, the Kataeb Party and the Free Patriotic Movement voiced support for the strike.

Most students stayed home during the daylong strike to demand higher salaries.

Although many schools kept their doors shut in adherence to the strike action, students in Grades 9 and 12 were asked to attend classes as they would be sitting later in the year for official state examinations.

 

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