Govt. Fails to Resolve Wage Scale Crisis as Teachers, Employees Stage Strike, Protest

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The cabinet on Tuesday failed to resolve the renewed wage scale crisis during an emergency session at the Grand Serail, as a general strike by private and public school teachers and civil servants entered its second day.

Information Minister Melhem Riachi told reporters after the session that the discussion will be continued during a Thursday session that will be chaired by President Michel Aoun, who is currently in France.

Asked whether the debate has made any progress, Riachi said "major progress was made" after "profound discussions."

MTV meanwhile reported that the session "witnessed a dispute between the Free Patriotic Movement and the AMAL Movement over the issue of state budget auditing and the suspension of Article 87 of the Constitution."

"The exit lies in finding a political solution to the FPM-AMAL political clash," ministerial sources told MTV.

LBCI television meanwhile reported that the debate is "still revolving around whether the taxes should be included in the state budget or in a separate law."

Economy Minister Raed Khoury had voiced optimism ahead of the session, telling reporters that “there is an inclination to pay the public sector salaries according to the new wage scale.”

“But let us await the outcome of today's session,” he added.

Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil for his part said he expected a “solution” during today's session.

“There will be a decision to implement the wage scale and we don't mind the finance minister's proposal but it should be comprehensive,” Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said.

Riachi meanwhile told reporters that he was “not sure” that the cabinet would decide to begin implementing the new wage scale.

Private and public school teachers and public employees observing a general strike that has entered its second day meanwhile staged a sit-in outside the Grand Serail to press the government not to delay the payment of the hiked wages.

The sit-in was organized by the Syndical Coordination Committee, the Association of Public Administration Employees and the General Confederation of Lebanese Workers.

The SCC later announced that the general strike will continue on Wednesday and Thursday, calling for a sit-in outside the presidential palace in Baabda where the next cabinet session will be held.

A protest was also held Tuesday outside the governorate headquarters in Zahle.

The crisis erupted after the Constitutional Council revoked a tax law that had been approved to fund the long-awaited wage hike plan. The annulment followed an appeal that was filed by ten MPs led by Kataeb Party chief Sami Gemayel.

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