Strike shuts Beirut airport, cabinet discusses public pay scales

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Lebanon's Middle East Airlines and other airlines have delayed flights until the strike action ends.

Lebanon's Middle East Airlines and other airlines have delayed flights until the strike action ends.

Lebanese air traffic controllers seeking a pay rise halted flights at Beirut's international airport for four hours on Thursday as the cabinet met to discuss a new public worker salary scale.

Around 4,000 people also protested outside the presidential palace in what the Union Coordination Committee, which represents public workers, said would be its biggest demonstration over pay rates since rallies started a month ago.

Lebanon's economy has slowed due to sectarian tensions within the government, which have worsened as the civil war in neighbouring Syria deepens divisions in its tiny neighbour.

Public pay demands are complicating the government's struggle to curb a budget deficit which soared by 67 percent to $3.93 billion last year. Lebanon has asked for international aid to help it host 370,000 Syrian refugees.

Beirut air traffic controllers, who are state employees, announced on Monday they would not guide flights in and out of the capital's Rafik Hariri airport between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (0800-1200 GMT) on Thursday.

Lebanon's Middle East Airlines and other airlines have delayed flights until the strike action ends.

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