Wage increase pushed amid political bickering and private sector opposition
The long-awaited government decree setting a new minimum wage for employees was deferred till next year.
The Cabinet postponed its discussion of the wage increase draft decree during its last session for the year 2011 (on December 28), after the Shura Council failed to issue its judicial position on the decree.
Squabbling among diverging political blocs in the government has kept it from attaining a resolution on the issue. The Cabinet adopted three different wage drafts during the past three months, but failed to turn any of them into an official decree.
The Council of Ministers adopted, on December 21, a wage increase formula submitted by Minister of Labor Charbel Nahas. The decision called for upping the minimum wage to $578 (currently $333), after the inclusion of an upgraded transportation allowance of $157.
Shortly before the ministers voted on Nahas’ proposal, representatives of economic bodies and of the General Confederation of Labor Unions (GCLU) held negotiations under the patronage of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and agreed to raise the minimum salary to $450.
The economic associations have utterly rejected the draft decree and called the cabinet to back the deal inked between business leaders and the GCLU instead.
The main disagreement over the adopted wage raise formula is the inclusion of transportation fees into the basic salary.
The president of the Beirut Traders Association, Nicolas Chammas, said that the economic bodies will not return to negotiations as an agreement “has already been reached with the labor union”.
The president of the GCLU, Ghassan Ghosn, said that the confederation respected the deal signed with private sector representatives.
Date Posted: Dec 30, 2011