Education International
Education International

Lebanon: Government must refer new public sector salary scale for approval to Parliament

published 14 December 2012 updated 18 December 2012

On 12 December, hundreds of teachers and public sector employees took to the streets, in a march organised by the Union Coordination Committee(UCC) to protest against the governmental failure to refer a new public sector salary scale for approval to the Parliament. They demanded a salary increase.

Addressing the gathering outside the Serail, the Government Palace, Nehmeh Mahfoud, President of the Teachers Syndicate of Lebanon (TSL), one of EI’s national affiliates, said public sector workers can no longer tolerate the Cabinet (Government)’s delay, which has been going on for more than a year. People have grown tired of false promises.

He also threatened that UCC, which brings together public and private school teachers, as well as civil servants, would paralyse public institutions each time the Cabinet convenes until its demands are met.

Addressing protesters, Hanna Gharib, President of the Ligue des professeurs de l’enseignement secondaire public du Liban(LESPL), another EI affiliates, said that, under the economic strategy proposed by the Government, public sector employees and public school teachers would receive a different pay raise than teachers working in private schools. Public school teachers are currently treated on an equal footing with those in private schools when it comes to salary raise.

“This jeopardizes the unity of teachers and divides the Union Coordination Committee,” Gharib deplored.

About a study calling for a salary raise over a five-year period, he added that it would undermine the raise in the upcoming five years given the inflation.

The Cabinet said that it would not tackle the wage scale in its 12 December session. It underlined that finalising the draft of the new salary scale regulation should be accompanied by administrative and financial reform measures that take into account people’s interests and the state of the national economy.

The country’s economic committees stand firm against the wage scale and allege that an increase of salaries, if adopted, would cause major job losses in both public and private sectors and have catastrophic effects on Lebanon’s public debt. Leading businessmen, merchants and bankers called on authorities to reject any plan endorsing a new salary scale bill or considering new taxes to fund this bill.

New public sector salary scale to be debated at the Parliament and funded

UCC has continuously criticised the Cabinet and accused him of manipulating teachers, procrastinating in meeting their demands and exerting pressure on UCC through the national Economic Committees.

It has urged the Cabinet to implement more taxes on coastal property to secure the funding of salaries and limit corruption within Lebanon’s public institutions.

Civil servants and teachers refuse to make any concession in their demands. For UCC, the Cabinet is solely responsible for paralysing the country.

UCC has already held several strikes to protest at the Cabinet stalemate, since the later has already approved the new salaries scale for public employees earlier this year. However, the Cabinet argues that it is deliberately delaying the issue to thoroughly discuss plans boosting the treasury's income to cover expenses involved by the boost in salaries.

UCC has vowed to keep to the streets until the new wage scale is brought up to the Parliament and to hold weekly rallies until the Cabinet meets its demands.

“EI urges the Lebanese authorities to immediately refer the new public sector salary scale to Parliament,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “The Government must keep its promises and understand that decent salaries and work conditions for teachers are crucial to ensure quality education for all in Lebanon.”