Beirut, Lebanon- Civil servants across the country began their planned one-day strike Tuesday, with employees at various ministries holding sit-ins at their place of work to demand adjustments to their salary scale.
Employees at the Health, Education, Foreign Affairs and Industry Ministries held signs outside their workplace saying that it is their right to have their salaries adjusted and that such a move is necessary if they are to live with a modicum of comfort.
The Union Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, is holding the strike to protest the Cabinet’s move to exclude adjustments to their salary scale in the 2012 state budget.
They are demanding a salary scale that would give teachers and other public sector employees the raise that the private sector received in January.
The employees are voicing disappointment over what they describe as the government’s “empty promises” to adjust the salaries.
Teachers have boycotted marking the official exams of grade 9 and 12.
Outside the Lebanese University in Beirut, the head of the private schools’ teachers union, Neemah Mahfouz, vowed escalatory action in response to any further procrastination regarding the salary scale issue.
He also criticized Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s remarks Monday that if civil servants’ salaries are not adjusted, he would enact a raise for teachers alone, saying: “You cannot sow division in ranks of the Union Coordination Committee. We are here to affirm our unity.”
Approximately 600,000 families would benefit from a raise in salary scale applied to the public sector.
Standing outside the Health Ministry, Minister Ali Hasan Khalil voiced support for the demands of his ministry’s staff and described them as just.
“They are right in terms of their demand and we acknowledged this in our ministerial committee meeting; in the last meeting, we agreed on the importance of adjusting the salary scale for the public sector,” Khalil told reporters.