Lebanon News

Teachers, public employees threaten strike over wages

This file picture shows hundreds of teachers and civil servants protesting in Beirut, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The Union Coordination Committee threatened to hold a daylong strike Thursday unless the Cabinet referred a controversial pay raise bill to Parliament for approval.


State Minister Marwan Kheireddine dismissed the idea that Cabinet, scheduled to meet at Baabda Palace later Wednesday, will submit the draft law to Parliament.


“I don’t think that the pay scale would be referred to Parliament today,” Kheireddine told a local radio station Wednesday.


“The solution would be to secure nontraditional or classic financing sources for the salary scale,” he said.


Kheireddine urged politicians to double their efforts to provide the necessary funding over a period of two years “so that the economy will not be affected and no direct taxes will be imposed on citizens.”


In remarks to Wednesday to daily newspaper An-Nahar, Kheireddine said the government “does not want to weigh down the economy and burden the treasury.”


The UCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, issued a statement in which it warned the government not to break its promise.


“A general strike will be observed Thursday, Oct. 18 across all private and public schools and educational institutes as well as ministries, municipalities and public departments if the Cabinet fails to approve during its meeting today to submit the pay scale to Parliament,” the UCC said in a statement.


It warned that the strike would be the first of a series of actions to be adopted by the UCC in the event the government delayed the salary increases.


The UCC threatened to hold similar strikes Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 to be accompanied by sit-ins outside ministries and government institutions in provinces and qadas.


The coalition also held the government “fully responsible” for the consequences should the UCC carry out its planned action.


Last week hundreds of teachers and public servants protested outside government headquarters in Beirut, demanding the Cabinet implement a long-awaited pay raise.


The Cabinet has approved a substantial raise for civil servants and public school teachers, but the decision still requires approval from Parliament.


Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government has shown reluctance to send the bill to Parliament until it reaches an agreement to secure funds to finance the mass salary increases.


Most ministers have resisted imposing tax hikes to fund the salary scale amid economic recession, realizing such a measure could spark protests in the country.





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