Mikati calls off Cabinet session as retirees protest salaries


A cabinet session was called off Friday after retired members of the armed forces blocked the entrances leading to the Grand Serail in downtown Beirut.

The retirees gathered at Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square to protest their low salaries, demanding their salaries be discussed in the session.

Cabinet was going to discuss in the session Friday the salaries of the public sector employees, after incentives were solely given to the Finance Ministry employees, enraging other public sector employees.

"I was surprised by the escalation in the street today, and to avoid a clash, I postponed today’s session," Mikati said, adding that he was planning to discuss the employees' incentives in the session.

Finance Ministry workers went on a strike Thursday after careteaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati decided to freeze their productivity bonuses. Mikati said the bonuses would be frozen until all public sector salaries are discussed in a cabinet session.

"We are committed to giving everyone their rights, but we have spending limits," Mikati said, warning against the Finance Ministry employees' strike.

All public sector employees, including the members of the armed forces, get paid in Lebanese pounds.

Their salaries have become too low to cover basic expenses while grocery stores and other businesses are now pricing their goods in dollars.

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