SCC Issues Stern Warning over Wage Scale, Berri Keeps Session Open-Ended

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The parliament once again failed on Thursday in approving the controversial pay hike for the public sector as the Syndicate Coordination Committee warned officials not to politicize the wage scale.

But Speaker Nabih Berri decided to keep the legislative sessions open-ended.

Head of the private school teachers association Nehme Mahfoud accused politicians during a press conference he held at parliament of causing the stalemate on the pay raise.

“We don't want the scale to be politicized,” he said following talks with Berri along with other members of the SCC.

He made his press conference after Berri informed the delegation, which included Hanna Gharib, the SCC chief, that MPs are still in disagreement on how to fund the scale.

March 14 alliance's Christian MPs and al-Mustaqbal have been boycotting parliamentary sessions aimed at discussing the draft-law.

A lengthy meeting held at Berri's office on Wednesday failed to narrow the differences on the scale.

Parliamentary blocs have expressed their support for the employees' rights but have warned that Lebanon's ailing economy would suffer if the total funding was not reduced from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion).

They have also disagreed on how to raise taxes to fund the scale over fears of inflation and its affect on the poor.

“All constitutional institutions are being paralyzed … Politicians are causing this situation,” said Mahfoud.

“The country will head towards abyss if they continue to hold onto their stances,” he told reporters.

“The wage scale is a red line. It needs a solution as soon as possible,” Mahfoud said.

He hinted that the teachers will boycott the correction of the official exams and civil servants will hold an open-ended strike.

The SCC, which is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, held a meeting later Thursday.

Following the meeting, Gharib, who is the head of public secondary school education teachers association, said: “We want our rights and we are not against anyone.”

“We back anyone who supports our rights,” he said.

“The state should not discriminate between different sectors,” Gharib told a press conference.

He reiterated that the SCC rejects the proposal to reduce the pay raise from LL2.8 trillion to LL1.8 trillion.

Gharib said that the coalition will announce details of its “practical and escalatory steps” following a meeting on Friday.

Ahead of its talks with Berri, the SCC delegation handed the general-secretariat a memo on its demands.

The coalitionvowed not to give up its call for a 121 percent wage hike and stressed its rejection to fund the scale by raising taxes at the expense of the poor.



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