After intense advocacy efforts by education unions and civil society organisations, the Lebanese parliament has passed a law providing a salary increase - for the first time in five years - for public services employees, including teachers.
The bill to raise salaries in the public sector was passed by Lebanese MPs when the Parliament met from 18-19 July. MPs endorsed the entire bill, including salary adjustments and social benefits for civil servants, other reforms, and an 85 per cent increase in pensions for retired employees.
The total cost of these increases is estimated at LL1.2 trillion (US$800 million) annually. Heated discussions about how to finance these increases were followed by demonstrations against the government’s proposal to raise the required revenue from new and increased taxes, which have been included in the draft 2017 national budget.
They include raising Value Added Tax from 10 to 11 per cent, increasing taxes on bank deposit interest from five to seven per cent, increasing taxes on companies’ profits from 15 to 17 per cent, putting a 15 per cent tax on profits from real estate transactions, and implementing a four per cent fee on the import of kerosene.
Widespread public demonstrations were held before the parliamentary session, with thousands of people protesting against the government’s plans to impose new taxes.
The teacher salary situation is an ongoing struggle for Education International's affiliates.