Lebanon News

LU professors to vote on future of strike

This file picture shows the LU university building in Hadath. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Lebanese University professors will vote this weekend on whether to continue their monthlong strike next week, after an agreement reached with Lebanese officials met some but not all their demands. Youssef Daher, the head of the League of Lebanese University Full-Time Professors, told The Daily Star Friday evening that discussions he had held with several ministers and the LU president had been “positive in some aspects and less positive in others.” However, he said, “the demands they agreed on are not good enough.”

Lecturers at the Lebanese University, the country’s only public university, have been on strike since May 6 to protest the 2019 draft budget’s allocation to the university, budget articles affecting state employees and other demands.

Daher Thursday met with Education Minister Akram Chehayeb, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, MP Bahia Hariri and LU President Fouad Ayoub. The officials agreed to some demands from the teachers, including granting full-time status to contracted lecturers.

According to a statement from Chehayeb’s office, the attendees asked Ayoub to submit the contracted teachers’ files to the education minister so they could be included in Cabinet’s agenda for discussion.

The statement also said Khalil discussed an amendment he was considering that would exclude teachers from an article in the draft 2019 state budget that would extend the minimum years of service before retirement from 20 to 25 years.

Chehayeb Friday called on lecturers to end their monthlong strike based on the agreement, which he said addressed many of their demands. But the result of the discussions will now be put to a vote within the league, Daher told The Daily Star, after which the league’s members will decide whether to continue the strike.

The strike has put on hold the studies of some 80,000 LU students, many of whom have responded with their own protests in an attempt to end the teachers’ strike and resume their studies. On Wednesday this week, LU students across the country mobilized, telling the state, “We just want to learn!”

“We are not against the demands of Lebanese University professors or their rights, but we don’t want it to come at our expense,” LU student Khadija Ezzedine said.

The same day, Prime Minister Saad Hariri chided the professors, saying the budget does not affect them. He added that the strike was negatively affecting hundreds of thousands of students, and pointed the blame at the university itself.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 15, 2019, on page 3.

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