Lebanon: educators join nationwide protests calling for political and economic change

published 23 October 2019 updated 7 November 2019

Education unions have expressed their support for the legitimate demands of hundreds of thousands of citizens calling for radical change in a political system accused of corruption, confessionalism and clientelism, and an end to the endless economic crisis plaguing Lebanon.

For nearly a week, the people of Lebanon have been rising against their politicians. Schools, universities and offices have been closed as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gather all over the country to protest against those who have profited financially while steering Lebanon into an economic abyss.

“We have said it several times:  do not look for money in the pockets of the poor in the name of economic reforms. Noting the wave of protests that spread throughout the country demanding drastic reform of Lebanon’s political system, we stand in solidarity with the legitimate demands of the citizens of Lebanon,” the Public Primary Schools Teachers League in Lebanon (PPSTLL) stated, reflecting the views of all education unions affiliated to Education International (EI) in the country, which include PPSTLL, the Comité des enseignants techniques officiels (CETO), the Ligue des Professeurs de l'Enseignement Secondaire Public du Liban (LPESPL) and the Teachers Syndicate of Lebanon (TSL).

The austerity measures are reflected in the restriction of rights, in ever-growing taxes, frozen salaries, the high unemployment rate and other consequences Lebanese people have had to live with: “Those protests are the cry of pain of all citizens. People’s purchasing power has severely decreased and many were pushed below the poverty line”.

The education unionists insist that, while the Lebanese have endured a lot of pressure silently, they are no longer able to be patient, having seen their living conditions and incomes steadily decreasing. They consider it “a great injustice” to further undermine the incomes of employees, workers and retirees, to the point where living with dignity would become impossible.

They therefore reiterate their strong and full support for the protesters, and call on:

  • The government to look for different solutions to the economic crisis rather than imposing taxes on those with limited income, particularly employees in the public sector; and
  • All teachers to be ready to act together with Lebanese trade union members of the teacher unions’ Coordination Committee and the General Labour Union.