Trade groups oppose rise in minimum wage
BEIRUT: Two major merchant groups have come out against labor union demands to more than double the minimum wage in statements released by the groups Sunday.
The Trade Association of Hamra and the Trade Association of Burj Hammoud dubbed demands to increase the minimum wage from LL500,000 to LL1,250,000 “too difficult” given the current economic slowdown.
The General Labor Confederation, Lebanon’s largest coalition of labor unions, has spearheaded plans to stage nation-wide strikes and demonstrations on Oct. 12 demanding the minimum wage boost as well as improvements to employment benefits.
Several labor unions have voiced support for the protest, lending credence to the GLC’s charge that cost of living increases, buttressed by rises in global food prices and notorious bureaucratic mismanagement, are becoming too difficult to bear.
But traders have come out strongly against the bid, which sources say is being seriously considered by Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet.
“We consider [wage rate rises] to be the right of the wage earner. But in [those] conditions that are different from economic conditions that Lebanon is currently under [which] have halted production operations, we see that there is difficulty in achieving the raises that are called for,” said a statement from the Trade Association of Burj Hammoud.
They also called on labor unions to work toward “a middle-ground” with traders to avoid the Oct. 12 strike.
The Trade Association of Hamra, a historic economic district in Beirut, echoed those statements.
It also denounced a draft law to raise Value Added Tax from 10 percent to 12 percent, urging the government to seek other avenues to tighten budget deficits.
Source: The Daily Star