Lebanese unions warn wage increase delays harming economy - unions
The head of the Union Coordination Committee [in Lebanon] attacked [Lebanese] Prime Minister Najib Mikati Thursday, saying thegovernment’s delay in finalizing a public sector wage scale was linked to slow growth in Lebanon.
“It’s not the wage scale that has slowed growth from 5 to 1 percent, but rather the failure to refer the salary scale is behind the slow growth,” Hanna Gharib, addressing Mikati, said as protesters rallied outside the Tender Administration Office in Verdun, Beirut.
Mikati, who argues more time is needed to study methods of financing the wage scale, said in an interview earlier this week that the sharp decline in economic growth needed to be taken into account when considering the issue of the pay hike.
Gharib said Thursday the government had no plans to refer the wage hike proposal to Parliament, a demand the union insists on for it to suspend its strike action that launched on Feb. 19.
"They [Cabinet] have not set a deadline for referring the pay scale for purposes of procrastinating because they do not want to refer it,” he told protesters.
“Refer the salary scale to Parliament and then growth will go up,” he told Mikati.
Gharib said the various reasons put forward for the delay did not reflect the true positions of political or economic officials.
He also accused several ministers of issuing threats over the UCC call for the open-ended strike.
“To the ministers who are threatening ministry employees, particularly at the Industry Ministry, I tell them that overcame the issue of sit-ins and strikes a while ago after the formation of committees [to coordinate] strike action at the various ministries.” he said.
He urged on behalf of the UCC that these committees be declared “independent union groups in the face of corruption.”
His remarks came ahead of a major protest planned for later Thursday.
Gharib has called for an all-out public sector strike at 3:30 p.m. outside UNESCO Palace to coincide with Teachers’ Day.
On Wednesday, Gharib stepped up his attack against the Economic Committees and Mikati’s government, saying members of the private sector “refuse to finance the salary scale from [revenues collected] from [coastal properties] and from illicit [funds].”
“The battle of the public sector is only the beginning and we will not succumb to the money tycoons,” he told civil servants and public school teachers who rallied outside the Energy Ministry Wednesday.