Labor unions split. Kassar calls on private firms to refrain from raising salaries until further notice - Lebanon

Labor unions split
Kassar calls on private firms to refrain from raising salaries until further notice
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The General Confederation of Labor Unions (GCLU) suspended the strike that was scheduled for Wednesday (October 12), on the backdrop of a solution proposed by the Prime Minister Najib Mikati. The solution, which suggests raising the minimum wages to LL700,000 ($466), would come into effect as a cabinet decree after it is signed by the Minister of Labor, Charbel Nahhas.

The GCLU expressed reservations over the draft. “The union suspended the strike, but did not cancel it…we will go ahead with the strike until the situation is rectified,” said Ghassan Ghosn, the president of the GCLU.

The president of the National Union for Laborers and Employees Syndicates, Castro Abdullah, said that the syndicates refused the settlement Ghosn had made with the officials. “The settlement that was announced is humiliating for workers and does not fulfill our demands,” he said. Abdullah disclosed that the union plans to schedule a new strike for next Wednesday (October 19).

The private sector’s economic bodies have utterly rejected the draft. They said that many firms are financially incapable of implementing the salary increases. The president of the economic bodies, Adnan Kassar, even called private sector institutions to refrain from raising the salaries of their employees until a further agreement is reached.

The Secretary General of the Lebanese Businessmen Association, Fouad Zmokhol, said that the decision “will be legally binding for private firms only for the minimum wage section.” He said that business leaders will submit an appeal to the Shura Council protesting the decree.

The proposal stated a LL 200,000 increase on wages ranging from LL500,000 to LL1 million. Wages between LL1 million and LL1.8 million would be increased by LL300,000. The decision also involved increasing the transportation allowances from the current LL8,000 to LL10,000 per day, as well as an upgrade of the education allowance for children to a maximum of LL1.5 million.

Business leaders had initially agreed to raise the minimum wage by LL200,000, while applying an increase of LL150,000 for people earning less than LL1.5 million.
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Date Posted: Oct 12, 2011