Lebanon amends daily minimum wage law, activists protest

Published July 24th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi. (AFP/File)
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi. (AFP/File)

Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi Thursday assured that deducting LL4,000 ($2.65 USD) from the daily minimum wage by the Cabinet would have no impact on the minimum monthly wages.

“The Cabinet merely made an amendment to a previous law on the daily minimum wage. This amendment was made after the former Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas calculated the daily minimum wage at LL30,000 ($19.85 USD) and this decision was opposed by the legislative and consultative body on the ground that the 675,000 ($446.59 USD) monthly minimum wage divided over 26 working days should net LL26,000 ($17.20 USD) a day and not LL30,000 ($19.85 USD) according to Nahhas’ calculations,” Azzi told The Daily Star.

The decision to deduct LL4,000 ($2.65 USD) from the daily minimum wage prompted some news media in Lebanon to blast the Cabinet of Prime Minister Tamam Salam.

Azzi said his ministry had no part in the decision to amend the daily wages in the country. “I only executed the Cabinet’s decision and was not involved in the discussions over this issue,” the minister added.

In 2012, the previous government under former Prime Minister Najib Mikati made amendments to the wages for both the private and public sectors based on recent studies on the cost of living.

The salary adjustments were also approved by the private sector and labor unions after a long and heated debate.

Azzi said most laborers, including Syrians, earn more than LL30,000 ($19.85 USD) a day for the work they do. “No worker is willing to work for LL30,000 a day and this also applies to Syrian nationals,” he added.

Azzi stressed that many activists waged a verbal campaign on the Labor Ministry in the social media without even understanding the facts behind the Cabinet’s decision.

“I can’t understand the noise made over this issue. We only fixed a mistake made by the former labor minister. Even some of the ministers in the previous Cabinet acknowledged that Nahhas made a mistake when he considered the daily wage at LL30,000 ($19.85 USD) instead of LL26,000 ($17.20 USD),” he added.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the original.

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