ASIA/LEBANON - Teachers in Catholic schools ready to strike for higher salaries

Wednesday, 18 October 2017 oriental churches   middle east   school   education

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Teachers at Lebanon’s Catholic schools may go on strike this evening Wednesday 18 October to protest because they risk being excluded from a pay rise connected with new rules regarding “salary grids” promulgated 21 August by the Lebanese government. This was confirmed to the national press by Rodolphe Abboud leader of the private school teachers unions of in, who spoke of growing unease among teachers in Catholic schools due to an almost two month impasse regarding the interpretation of the new salary norms and the application of these in the sector of nongovernment schools.
Last week Fr Boutros Azar, Secretary general of Catholic schools in Lebanon and Coordinator of private teaching associations, instructed schools to pay salaries for October without the increase seen in salaries of the previous month .
Increases in salaries commenced with the new government instruction on the salary grid, already in force for teachers at government schools, present a serious difficulty for financial sustainability in all Lebanese schools, one third of which are run by nongovernment bodies and for the greater part depend on Lebanon’s Churches and Christian communities. This is why, Fides learned (see Fides 7/9/2017), in early September the Maronite bishops asked the government to revise the of wage increase system started with the new rules regarding salary grids for teachers in private schools. Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai, said in this regard that Catholic schools have nothing against increased pay for teachers, but they wish to prevent such increases from causing drastic hikes in school fees and taxes paid by the families and for this reason ask “the government to shoulder the teachers’ salaries increase ". In the meantime a technical committee formed ad hoc by education minister Marvan Hamadé, has so far offered no possible solution to the question.
According to the Lebanese press, a large majority of the Catholic schools in Lebanon will abide by instructions issued by their respective Secretary General, while only a few important Catholic school institutes have reportedly informed their teaching staff of the intention of shouldering the salary increases necessary to conform with the new “salary grids”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 18/10/2017).