Lebanon's public sector employees hold general strike over possible wages cut

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-17 17:13:33|Editor: ZX
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BEIRUT, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's public sector employees, including teachers, municipalities' employees and other state workers, went on strike on Wednesday to protest against a possible cut in wages aimed at reducing budget deficit, local media reported.

Teachers at public schools in Nabatieh, Zahrani, Akkar, Batroun, Jezzine and several other areas stopped working while public sector employees in other areas, such as Amioun's Serail in Koura, restricted their work to dealing with urgent matters only, according to the National News Agency.

The head of the Lebanese General Labor Union Bechara Asmar said that public sector employees will not accept any reduction in their salaries or retirement wages.

"We will not remain silent to any of such measures. What we are witnessing in the streets is just the beginning of several other measures to be taken if the government resorts to cutting public sector employees' salaries," he was quoted as saying by Elnashra, an online independent newspaper.

The general strike came after Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil last week said that unpopular measures will be taken in a bid to reduce the 2019 state budget.

"If we do not reduce salaries, there will be no salaries, no economy and no Lebanese pound," Bassil said.

Retired military personnel started the strike on Tuesday by blocking several roads across the country.

The Lebanese government will convene on Thursday to discuss the 2019 state budget which is expected to be endorsed within the coming few weeks.

Endorsing a state budget that slashes the deficit is among the measures the government has pledged to take as part of the key financial and economic reforms recommended at last year's CEDRE Conference.

To curb Lebanon's budget deficit, which has increased to over 11 percent of GDP, the cabinet will seek to reduce the deficit by 1 percent each year over the next five years by limiting government expenditures.