Berri sends wage hike bill back to Parliament committees amid protests

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Published Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri sent back the wage hike bill to the Joint Parliamentary Committees Wednesday, saying that many sectors opposed the bill.

"I thank Parliament, subcommittees, the Joint Parliamentary Committees and especially MP George Adwan who made great efforts to reach a solution," Berri told lawmakers. "But many sectors were not pleased with the bill."

"We wanted to give the teachers a gift for Eid, but we were unable to do so since many sectors are against the proposed law," Berri added. "That's why I ask for the return of the draft law to the Joint Parliamentary Committees for further study."

Private school teachers rallied at Riad Solh Square near Parliament in condemnation of the "unjust" law, and the Private School Teachers Union announced its commitment to the open strike which started at 10 am Wednesday while the legislative session was in procession.

The head of the Private School Teachers Union, Nehme Mahfouz, said that the law lacked "equality and justice," demanding that private school teachers and public sector teachers be treated in a way that preserves their rights and dignities or else there will be "escalatory moves."

Mahfouz then said that “the wage hike is not our right, but also the military’s,” indicating that the syndicate will linger its movements for now and will study the upcoming steps after calling Berri to do what is planned.”

Minister of Education Elie Abu Saab joined the angry crowd and stated that “the demands of the teachers are righteous."
"I don’t think we ought to differentiate between the private and public sectors," Abu Saab added. "Depriving one sector from the salary scale is unacceptable, it be must studied in a just and equal manner."

Saab pointed out that the approval of the salary scale was delayed because "some demands need re-studying for the interest of everybody."

The National News Agency (NNA) reported statements made by a number of lawmakers.

Finance Minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, said that he was absolutely committed to the endorsement of the salary scale,

"I would like to declare the Finance Ministry's technical and financial readiness to cover the salary scale," Khalil said, warning that any delay endorsing it would exact a bigger burden on the ministry.

"Even if the salary scale is referred to the parliamentary committees, the syndical bodies should not go weak. We should all work together to fix the existing flaws in the salary scale," he added.

Moreover, Deputy Ibrahim Kanaan's statements "we don't wish to return to square one regarding the salary scale file," stressing that "the Lebanese Army and ISF (Internal security Forces) have rights and amendments of the wage scale are a duty."

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Samir Mokbel, said that he would soon "propose a draft law to the Cabinet on the salary scale for the military elements to discuss and approve it."

On Wednesday, lawmakers passed eight draft laws, including a bill that corrects an error in the new traffic law and LL626 billion to pay the November and December salaries of public sector employees.

The Union Coordination Committee (UCC) will hold its meeting today at 4 pm to look into the affairs after returning the scheme of wage hike back to the parliamentary committees.



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