The Salary Scale file slips to the bottom whilst the political situation is blocked

Sat, 08/30/2014

After three years, during which the Union Coordination Committee (UCC) struggled to push for the demands of teachers and employees using all legal means, the issue of adjusting the salary scale remains unresolved with no prospects for a happy ending, at least in the foreseeable future. Since the beginning of the movement, this key trade union issue developed in complexity and was taken hostage by local political bickering exacerbated by the current sharp divisions in Lebanon. The action of the UCC also witnessed a significant transformation as the trade union body developed into a new, autonomous, and highly politicized body. While awaiting more clarity in the general context, it is useful to review the current situation and to focus on the main challenges confronting the UCC.
Discussions around the new salary scale went through various stages while remaining focused on two key issues: the estimated cost of implementation and possible sources of revenue. The dossier moved in between ministers, MPs, and parliamentary commissions and, at each stage, figures kept changing inexplicably. Mikati’s costing of LBP 1669 billion spiked up to LBP 3150 billion according to the parliamentary commission headed by MP Kanaan and then dropped again to LBP 1807 billion according to the estimates of the parliamentary commission headed by MP Adwan, during which the issue of financing remained unresolved. Interestingly, the traditional 14 and 8 March demarcation lines moved to new positioning and re-alignment with regards to the salary scale.
For its part, the UCC held its ground and maintained its pressure which took different forms and witnessed much toing and froing in dealing with political forces. However, the UCC ultimately reached a dead end, and, could not impose its position on the various key political forces and was, as such, trapped in its position to refrain from correcting the official exams. This position subsequently backfired with the government deciding to issue affidavit to all those who registered for the official examination.
In fact, UCC’s current misfortune is intimately related to the current political standstill, in relation to the election of new president, as well as renewed talk about extending the mandate of the present parliament. This standstill resulted in the freeze of Parliamentary sessions and henceforth of discussions on the salary scale. Thus, one can conclude that the escalation of political crisis, in addition to the rapid regional development (notably the rise of ISIS and the gory events in 3arsaal), the continued deterioration of the economy and the pressures resulting from the influx of Syrian displaced, have all concurred to push the issue to the bottom of the priority list of politicians.