Minister Charbel Nahhas and head of the General Labor Confederation Ghassan Ghosn Beirut - Arabstoday Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas, who has voiced strong reservations about a salary increase package endorsed Wednesday, will likely sign the deal, sources close to the Free Patriotic Movement official said Thursday. “The atmosphere is positive and things are headed toward a solution,” one FPM source told The Daily Star. Nahhas was unavailable Thursday to comment on the issue. A private sector source said the minister has two options: “either to sign the decree or resign from the Cabinet,” after a political settlement was reached with FPM head Michel Aoun over the issue. Nahhas spent much of Thursday morning meeting with fellow FPM officials who are also ministers in the Cabinet, the FPM sources added. The Cabinet approved pay hikes Wednesday despite reservations by Nahhas, who threatened at one point not to sign the new agreement. In theory, Nahhas would sign the Cabinet decision and then send it to the president, prime minister and finance minister for approval. The Cabinet has passed four previous wage plans, all of which were rejected by the Shura Council for failing to conform entirely to Labor Laws. This delayed a final resolution of the wage hike for four months since deliberation started last October. The new agreement, which won the support of 19 ministers, stipulates an increase in the minimum monthly wage from the current LL500,000 to LL675,000, and keeps the transportation and education allowances unchanged until a new draft law on these issues is approved by Parliament. The General Labor Confederation-private sector agreement was inked last December. The labor minister had rephrased the agreement but kept core issues unchanged. The ministers decided that a LL200,000 increase, given back in 2008, would be canceled. Salaries would then receive a 100-percent hike on the first bracket set up to 400,000. The second salary bracket between LL400,000 and LL1.5 million would then receive a 9-percent hike (see table). Private sector representatives as well as most labor groups hailed the decision Thursday. “We thank the Cabinet for endorsing the historical deal between the private sector and the GLC. We call on all sides to build on the deal toward resolving economic and social issues,” said Nehmat Freim, head of Lebanese Industrialists’ Association. The same was reiterated by other private sector associations in various statements issued Thursday. Head of the General Labor Confederation, Ghassan Ghosn told the Central News Agency he hoped the final decree would be issued soon “after workers waited for long months.” The same was reiterated by Maroun Khawly, head of the General Labor Confederation Union, a GLC rival labor group. However, the Union Coordination Committee emerged divided over the issue. Hanna Gharib, head of the UCC, said the group would go back to strikes and demonstrations. He said the group insists on adding the transportation allowance to the basic salary. But the Teachers’ Association, a part of the UCC, said they accept the decision despite its flaws, saying that “the weakness of the labor movement leadership does not allow for a more just wage increase.” A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 20, 2012, on page 4.