Agreement on salary hike

Raise delayed as consensus

GMT 08:26 2012 Tuesday ,10 January

Arab Today, arab today Raise delayed as consensus

Pr.Minister Najib Mikati Meets a Delegation From The General Labor Federation  
Beirut - Arabstoday

Pr.Minister Najib Mikati Meets a Delegation From The General Labor Federation   Beirut - Arabstoday The Cabinet is expected to endorse next week the agreement reached between the private sector and the General Labor Confederation on the salary hike as the Shura Council assesses Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas’ last amendment to the proposal. Representatives from the private sector and the GLC met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun in an attempt to drum up support for the agreement amid signs that the government may give its seal of approval for the understanding. According to informed source, the Cabinet will not discuss the issue in its session to be held Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, but could hold another meeting next week in a clear effort by Mikati to reach a consensus on the deal he brokered. The intensive talks aim to attain broader political support for the agreement after deliberations with Aoun apparently failed to completely bridge the gap between Nahhas’ proposal and the deal reached between the GLC and private sector last month. The divergence between the two views revolves around the transportation allowance issue. While Nahhas insists the allowance should be included in the basic salary, the private sector maintains that such a step would increase costs beyond their means. The signatures of both Mikati and Nahhas are required to enact a final decision over the issue by the Cabinet. “We always support harmony and there is agreement from both sides of the production sector and we will take care of this issue and Labor Minister [Charbel Nahhas] was involved with us in the matter,” Mikati told reporters after his meeting with the two groups. The delegation, comprised of GLC head Ghassan Ghosn, head of the Lebanese Union of Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Choukair and Nicolas Chammas, head of the Beirut traders’ association, had met earlier with Aoun. After the meeting at Aoun’s residence in Rabieh, the FPM leader said the private sector-GLC agreement had been referred to Nahhas, who is one of the ministers in Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc in Mikati’s government. “We have looked into various issues related to salaries and the agreement [reached] between the labor union and [the private sector] committee is now in the labor minister’s hands,” Aoun told reporters after the meeting. Choukair told The Daily Star that no conclusive agreement had been reached at the deliberations with Aoun. “I want to be neither a pessimist nor an optimist,” he said, adding: “The meeting [with Aoun] was positive but more time is needed. The private sector’s concerns were understood [by Aoun] and we were promised that the [amended] plan by Nahhas would not be enacted by the Cabinet this week. Further deliberations will take place this week,” he said. According to Choukair, the same delegation is scheduled to meet President Michel Sleiman and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri this week. Media reports said the deal would need to be reshaped in line with the labor law and three consecutive verdicts made by the Shura Council on wage plans over the past few months. On Jan. 3, the Shura Council, a governmental body that makes non-binding recommendations based on the country’s Constitution, rejected the Cabinet’s third wage-hike proposal presented by Nahhas, citing a violation of the country’s social security laws. It said the Cabinet’s inclusion of the transportation allowances as part of the basic salary was illegal. Nahhas subsequently sent an amended version of his plan, which was also rejected by the private sector. Only the GLC agreed to the Mikati-brokered proposal, which was rejected by various labor groups including the Union Coordination Committee, which represents public sector employees and teachers across the country. The UCC said it would return to strikes and protests if the Cabinet endorsed the GLC-private sector deal. Under the Mikati-brokered agreement the minimum wage was set at LL700,000. Salaries under LL1 million would increase by 200,000. Salaries between LL1 million and LL1.5 million would increase by LL250,000, while salaries above LL1.5 would increase by LL300,000. The education allowance was raised to a maximum of LL1,500,000 and the transportation allowance remained unchanged at its current LL8,000 per working day, totaling LL176,000 per month.  

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