Wage decree underway. Economic bodies call for dialogue; Ghosn says 85 percent of workers to benefit from raise - Lebanon

Wage decree underway
Economic bodies call for dialogue; Ghosn says 85 percent of workers to benefit from raise
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The private sector economic bodies called the General Confederation of Labor Unions for further talks over the wage increase decision adopted by the Cabinet last week. “We call the GCLU for a resumption of dialogue as both parties have not been satisfied with the wage raise formula,” said former Minister Adnan Kassar.

The economic bodies filed an official request to the Cabinet, through the Minister of Labor Charbel Nahas, to rerun a dialogue based on the approach of the Price Indicator Committee. The request however was rejected by the President of the GCLU, Ghassan Ghosn, who called for the amendment of the decree to include all salary segments. According to Ghosn, the decree came for the benefit of 85 percent of workers (who earn less than LL1.8 million).

Kassar said that the Cabinet decree should not block further talks between the economic bodies and the GCLU. “(After the decree is issued), we could apply the part related to the minimum wage for the meantime, until we attain a comprehensive solution for other wages,” he said.

Business leaders have argued that the State is not entitled to interfere in determining the salaries of employees who earn above the minimum wage threshold. According to attorney Salah Mattar, the legal aspect of the wage increase decree is not clear. “There is an open debate in this matter, the economic bodies could contest the decree at the Shura Council while providing a legal pretext proving that the decree is in contradiction to the law,” Mattar said. If the Shura Council accepts the appeal, the decree would be invalid.

Several labor unions, including teachers associations, have contested the wage increase decision, calling it a “discriminatory settlement”. The teachers’ associations have called for a general strike on Wednesday (October 19) to demand higher pays.

The Cabinet decree, which will be issued within the next few days, raises the minimum wage from LL500,000 to LL700,000. Wages between LL1 million and LL1.8 million would be increased by LL300,000.
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Date Posted: Oct 18, 2011