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Teachers adamant on open strike amid gov't’s dialogue calls

Gov’t pledges to investigate all violations documented from Thursday’s sit-in

By JT - Sep 07,2019 - Last updated at Sep 07,2019

Teachers take part in a protest in Amman on Thursday, demanding a 50-per cent raise that they say was agreed with the government five years ago (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — The Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) on Saturday said it was adamant on starting an open strike Sunday after talks with the government regarding their demand of a 50-per cent raise bore no results.

In a press conference following the talks, JTA Vice President Naser Nawasrah told the press that teachers “will not enter the classrooms until those responsible for transgressions against teachers during Thursday’s protest are held accountable”, to which the government responded with a request for the syndicate to provide a list of all alleged violations during Thursday’s sit-in, pledging to investigate any cases of “documented” transgressions “seriously and transparently”.

For its part, the Public Security Department (PSD) said in its own press conference that its personnel “practised restraint” during Thursday’s protests, but they “were driven to the use of force by some protesters who were shoving their way to reach the Fourth Circle”.

The PSD also condemned what it labelled as offensive comments by some teachers against its personnel, and who were “demeaning them with comments about their level of education”.

The security agency stated that it detained 50 teachers during the protests for “illegally forcing their way through”, adding that 15 of them were referred to the Bayadir precinct, where they underwent protocol procedures.

The government reiterated on Saturday its commitment to dialogue as a way to improve the living conditions of teachers and public-sector employees as well as enhancing the educational process by boosting performance. 

In a statement following the talks with teacher representatives, the government affirmed its keenness on preserving the stature and dignity of teachers, as well as security personnel.

On Thursday, teachers from around the Kingdom took part in a sit-in in Amman during school hours demanding a raise that they say had been agreed upon with the government five years ago but never materialised, after which they announced the strike, dubbed “illegal” by the government at the time.

Nawasrah told the press on Saturday that the strike will take place in schools but teachers will not enter the  classrooms, noting that it was agreed upon by all the branches of the association around the Kingdom.

He noted that the syndicate sent an official demand for the government in May for the raise, which he described as “every teacher’s right since 2014”, adding that the JTA has been attempting to discuss teachers’ demands with the authorities throughout the summer holiday to no avail.

“Teachers’ dignity is the country’s dignity,” Nawasrah said, stressing that the JTA is committed to attaining its demands “peacefully”.

For its part, the government said in its statement that “dialogue is the foundation of understanding and agreement”, adding that agreement cannot be reached through strikes, which harm the interests of students and damage the reputation of the teachers involved. 

The government is dedicated to addressing teachers’ demands, however, it prioritises the best interests of students and their right to education, according to the statement. 

Increases in teachers’ wages and raises are connected to the development of their performance, in accordance with an agreement reached with the JTA’s previous council, the statement noted. 

The statement also reaffirmed the government’s “respect for the freedom of speech” and its protection, adding that everyone falls under the rule of law towards the protection of society and maintenance of its security without damaging public facilities or the public’s best interest.

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