Lebanon: More strikes planned

Published November 15th, 2012 - 09:17 GMT
Will  Lebanese PM Mikati be able to resist the pressure from striking workers?
Will Lebanese PM Mikati be able to resist the pressure from striking workers?

The Union Coordination Committee put the final touches on the two-day general strike for Nov. 27- 28 in a desperate attempt to force the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati to endorse the salary scale.

The committee, which gathers public civil servants as well as public and private school teachers, insists on all the salary increments and benefits which the salary scale states.

Nearly all public schools and a number of private schools were forced to close for one day last week after most teachers observed a strike.

The committee threatened to close major public offices and stage sit-ins in many areas in case the Cabinet refrained from transferring the bill to the Parliament.

But most ministers and experts expressed serious doubt that Mikati would bow to the pressure of the committee amid signs that the proposed taxes to finance the salary increase will never see the light.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh and some ministers have warned against increasing current spending, adding that this measure would surely cause the budget deficit to surge.

They also argued that increasing public salaries by up to 60 percent would cause inflation to rise by two to three percent.

Economists fear that the country will be pushed to the cliff if either the taxes or higher wages were approved this year.

Sources told The Daily Star that Mikati prefers to throw the ball of fire to the next Cabinet in order not to ruin his chances to be reelected to Parliament in 2013.

There is a strong belief that most political parties do not favor raising taxes or hiking salaries under these delicate conditions.

They are also aware that the private sector can no longer endure more taxes, stressing that many companies, hotels and restaurants are dismissing their employees due to the economic slowdown.

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