Following rumors implying that the striking employees of the Ministry of Finance will not process the February salaries of civil servants, sources close to the Ministry assured This is Beirut that the mood surrounding discussions to resolve the problem is positive and the Ministry’s employees are not heading for escalation — quite the contrary.

“They (finance employees) don’t want to deprive their colleagues of their salaries and pensions. They sympathize with them and don’t want to distress anyone,” the sources said, adding that the Finance employees will issue a statement clarifying their position on Monday.

According to a source in the League of Employees of the Ministry of Finance, rumors have been circulating that the ministry’s personnel will not finalize transactions and disbursements of February salaries for civil servants, military personnel, and pensioners until further notice, despite the Council of Ministers’ approval of a welfare package for them.

The reason behind their reluctance to go back to work is their insistence on additional “special bonuses” from the Treasury advance approved in 2023, which “expires next month and which they have always required.”

Employees in the Ministry of Finance have been observing a work stoppage, while their colleagues in other ministries announced on Thursday a temporary suspension of their strike until Friday, March 8, 2024. In practical terms, this means that the salaries of civil servants and pensioners will not be paid, at least not on time.

The Finance staff have been on strike since Thursday last week, when Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked Minister of Finance Youssef El-Khalil to temporarily suspend the financial benefits to be granted to them. Mikati’s decision was in response to the strike called by other civil servants to protest against what they described as the Executive’s “discriminatory behavior” towards them.

However, the civil servants and pensioners abandoned their protest when the government readjusted public sector salaries and pensions at its meeting on Wednesday.