Lebanon’s Finance Minister says negotiations are ‘very likely’
Beirut – Georges Chahine
Strikes and sit-ins by Lebanese civil servants have entered their second day, in a dispute over pay and conditions in national government ministries.
Union bosses have threatened to continue unrest until their demands are met.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has meanwhile criticised striking civil servants, stating their actions would not lead to a restructuring of wage systems.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Sleiman revealed the way wages were being paid was “under scrutiny, to secure the best interests for the country.”
Proposals would be put before Prime Minister Najib Mikati "as soon as possible,” he added.
Speaking at a rally outside Lebanon’s Finance Ministry in Beirut, Syndicate Coordination Committee (SCC) chairman Hanna Gharib claimed examinations would be delayed as long as sit-ins were still taking place.
“The government is responsible for the outcome of this strike,” he said.
Hanna also threatened the possibility of closing down government ministries if wage demands were not met soon.
Private Schools' Teachers Syndicate chief Nehme Mahfoud addressed public sector workers at another strike on Wednesday, saying: “The law is on our side – they’re the ones wrecking the country.”
Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi has claimed it is “very likely” a new public sector wage system will be negotiated in the next two weeks, despite other minister’s claims that Lebanon does not have the financial means to do so.
SCC member Kamel Shia claimed nine strikes had taken place simultaneously on Wednesday, with more planned outside education and agriculture ministries on Thursday and Friday respectively