Lebanon News

Teachers strike, Nahhas says Cabinet to look into wage hike decision

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s labor minister said Cabinet would Wednesday look into reconsidering its decision on boosting worker’s wage, as teachers across the country went on strike over the deal.

“The Cabinet will discuss during its session to be held at the [Grand] Serail this afternoon the issue of reviewing the decree to increase wages,” Charbel Nahhas told a local radio station Wednesday.

Nahhas admitted the decision, reached with the General Labor Confederation last Tuesday, had “turned into a problem rather than a solution,” and expressed hope the Cabinet would revise and introduce a new decision on raising workers’ salaries.

Under the deal, the minimum wage would be raised to LL700,000 from LL500,000, while the wages of those earning less than LL1 million would be raised by LL200,000 and those who earn between LL1 million and LL1.8 million would see a rise of LL300,000.

The decision drew ire in separate directions from workers’ unions and representatives of the private sector, with the unions arguing the wage increases don’t go far enough, and the private sector urging companies not to implement the increase at all.

"We don’t want them to give us a raise in one hand and take it back in the other.”
Teachers Wednesday made good on their promise of carrying out a strike across the country, with hundreds gathering outside the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut.

Waving placards reading “Administrators’ salaries a mockery,” “We want fair wages” and “The poor should not suffer the policy of taxation,” some 700 educators held a sit-in in front of the Grand Serail.

Despite the action, some private schools had earlier said they would open their doors to students on the day.

Hanna Gharib, the head of Secondary Teachers Associations told The Daily Star Tuesday that the strike was intended as a “reaction to the Cabinet’s [decision] which is an insult to our dignity,” and voiced confidence that it would be successful. “We will show them that we are united.”

Gharib said that rather than focusing on wages, the Cabinet should come up “with a radical solution,” addressing reasons behind the continuous decline in the purchasing power in the country.

“We need new socioeconomic plans, social safety nets along with efforts to monitor prices ... We don’t want them to give us a raise in one hand and take it back in the other.”

Cabinet’s decision also drew the ire of the private sector, representatives of which urged firms not to carry out the decision.

Representatives of businessmen and private firms argue that most companies would not be able to afford the salary increase and warn that the move could push up inflation rates in the country.





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