Lebanon News

Mikati says keen on resolving Cabinet issues

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, right, speaks with Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi during a Cabinet meeting at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he was exerting all efforts to resolve issues facing his government, including the threatened boycott by the Union Coordination Committee, in comments published Saturday.

“I am keen on [safeguarding] the country. From this basis I carry out my work and exert my efforts in all matters and I say that anyone who has answers to all these matters should come forward and present them,” Mikati told As-Safir newspaper in response to a question about possible sit-ins.

Teachers threatened Friday to resume a boycott of marking official grade 9 and 12 exams next week after Cabinet failed to keep a promise to increase the salaries of public sector employees in the 2012 draft budget it passed earlier this week.

The Union Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, called on its constituencies to stage a one-day strike Tuesday which would include sit-ins near ministries and other state buildings.

The announcement came during a UCC news conference Friday at an exam correction center in the Beirut suburbs of Bir Hasan, where teachers stopped correcting in protest of low wages between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Hanna Gharib, the head of the Secondary Teachers Association, challenged Prime Minister Najib Mikati about his promise to pass a salary scale that would give teachers and other public sector employees the raise private sector received in January. Teachers would receive some additional benefits as part of the salary scale.

Speaking of their agreement to pass the salary scale in June and implement it beginning July 1, Gharib addressed the Prime Minister: “June is over and July is almost over and you have yet to fulfill your promise, you took the salary scale out of the draft budget, contrary to what you promised.”

The Cabinet passed the 2012 draft budget earlier this week without including the salary scale.

It is currently being studied by a ministerial committee that includes the education, economy, and finance ministers. Gharib complained that the UCC has not yet been invited to the committee’s Monday meeting.

Teachers ended a boycott of marking exams earlier this month after receiving promises from the main blocs in the Cabinet that the committee and the Cabinet would pass the scale this week.

In line with UCC’s call, the League of Public Administration employees called on members to strike Tuesday and gather near their ministries and state buildings.

Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas has said the salary scale shouldn’t be taken lightly and that the main priority should be to balance the state budget.





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