Lebanon ups minimum wage 40% after strike threat

Work wage lifts to $465 a month after first gov increase in 3 years

A food market in Lebanon. Workers will now receive a minimum of $465 a month
A food market in Lebanon. Workers will now receive a minimum of $465 a month

Lebanon’s government agreed to raise the minimum wage by 40%, the first increase in three years, averting a strike threatened by the General Labour Confederation.

The government announced the decision, which lifts the minimum wage to 700,000 Lebanese pounds ($465) a month from 500,000 pounds, in a statement late Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting and discussions between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and union leaders who had warned they may strike starting today, Bloomberg reported.

“We accepted this decision with reservation and called off the strike,” Ghassan Ghosn, the head of the confederation, said in a phone interview. He said the union had been seeking a 60 percent increase.

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Lebanon’s last minimum wage increase was in 2008 when it was raised by 67%, the first hike since 1996. The government also increased wages that are above the minimum, ordering a 200,000-pound raise for salaries up to 1 million pounds, and a 300,000-pound raise for those between 1 million and 1.8 million pounds.

 

“The immediate impact will be a rise in inflation and an increase in the operating cost of the private sector, especially at small and medium sized enterprises,” said Nassib Ghobril, head of research at Lebanon’s Byblos Bank. “The government should have looked at improving the competitiveness of the Lebanese economy by reducing the operating costs of companies.”

Lebanon’s inflation rate declined to 5.5% in August from 5.8% the previous month, according to the Central Administration for Statistics.

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