In a recent press conference on 30 Mar called by the Ligue des professeurs de l'enseignement secondaire public du Liban (LPESPL), teachers demand to be paid 12 consecutive years of allowance arrears.
After a nation-wide strike held on 24-25 Feb, teachers turned out in unprecedented numbers in support of the industrial action. For the first time, politics and sectarianism did not foreshadow the issues at heart.
Lebanese teachers are asking to be paid the allowance for the increase in working hours according to the Law 53/66 passed in 1966. The allowance constitutes 60% of their basic wage. However, based on Law 717 passed in 1998 which professed to "raise the minimum level of wages and merge compensations", they have been working longer hours without being rightfully compensated.
The month-long industrial action taken back in 2000 only managed to get the government to increase the rate from 0 to 25%. This time round, teachers are determined to get the percentage back to 60% as stated in the 1966 law, as well as reclaim 12 years of arrears owed to them by the government.
"Let no one offer as an excuse the lack of funds, for two reasons. Firstly, no work without pay. Secondly, what we are asking for is an acquired right that used to be paid to us, and its funds were available from the general budget. However, payment stopped twelve years ago. Where did the funds go?" said Hanna Gharib, LPESPL president, in his press statement.
EI strongly supports the LPESPL in its industrial action and urges the Lebanese government to accept their legitimate demands as soon as possible.
In a letter dated 3 Mar, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen wrote that "the spirit of the 1966 ILO-UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Teachers should be the basis of national policies and practices concerning all education personnel".
To download a pdf copy of the LPESPL's press statement in English and Arabic, please click on the links below.