Teachers in Lebanon are continuing with their determined campaign to force the government to honour its promises to pay them a decent salary. This is only the latest round in a long dispute, where teachers and other civil servants are finding it difficult to make ends meet and where some have not had a pay increase for 20 years. Moreover the government is trying to tie any rise to an increase in hours, which teachers totally reject.

The government had promised a pay increase but has reneged on that, partly through the intervention of business leaders who say the coutry cannot afford to give the teachers a pay rise. The International Monetary Fund has also intervened to demand that the government use its profits from hydrocarbons to pay down the country's debt. Many politicians accept that the pay rise is necessary but some have suggested that it be funded through a rise in VAT which would have the biggest impact on the poor. Teachers completely reject this, saying that instead the government should put a stop to corruption and should tax the many very wealthy people in the country.

The dispute has also had an effect on the end of year exams with teachers refusing to mark them until their demands are met. While private school teachers' leaders decided to lift the boycott on the exams out of disgust for the government's awarding the certificates without their being assessed by teachers, public school teachers say the boycott should stay in place. As the leader of the secondary teachers' union put it: “We should not back down under the pressure. If the minister is trying to burn the card we hold, we should retort by holding on to this card. They cannot issue passing certificates every year."

There will be a general strike of teachers and other civil servants on Thursday under the auspices of the union confederation UCC, which is co-ordinating the campaign.