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Ghunaimat presents government’s proposals to end teachers’ strike

By Rana Husseini - Sep 23,2019 - Last updated at Sep 23,2019

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat speaks during a meeting at the Prime Ministry on Sunday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat on Sunday said "open dialogue" is the only solution to end the teachers' strike that began more than two weeks ago.

"The government is serious and committed to finding a fair and practical solution to end the teachers' strike," Ghunaimat told reporters during a meeting at the Prime Ministry.

"We call on the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) to end the strike and sit with the government to negotiate alternatives that would preserve the rights of the teachers and the students," the minister added.

"Our main concern is to ensure better working conditions and salaries for the teachers, and we will work on that through a joint committee that will be formed between the government and JTA members to discuss these points," Ghunaimat told reporters.

The minister added that, "we also want to ensure that the children affected by the strike will get their proper right of education and this cannot happen unless the teachers decide to end their strike".

Some 100,000 teachers declared a nationwide strike on September 8, calling on the government to acknowledge, and meet, their right to a 50-per cent pay raise they claimed was promised by a previous government five years ago. 

During Sunday's meeting, however, Ghunaimat stated that the previous governments,"never promised the teachers a 50-per cent raise".

"The 50-per cent raise was never promised by any government in previous years. But the successive governments pledged their commitment to improving the working conditions and salaries of the teachers and this is our aim by the beginning of 2020," Ghunaimat stressed.

The JTA also asked for the government to apologise for the way the authorities reportedly handled the sit-in they staged in Amman on September 5, during which the association claimed its members were subject to violations.

The association also rejected the government's proposal during a meeting held on Thursday, describing it as "vague" and stressed that it tackles none of the teachers' demands.

Meanwhile during the same meeting, the government insisted that their proposal set a "new model" to improve the living and financial conditions of teachers while developing the educational process.

The JTA vowed to continue its strike, claiming that the recent government and previous governments have ignored their demands for a long time. 

The open strike was announced after the sit-in in Amman on September 5, during which, the JTA claimed, violations were committed against its members.

The Public Security Department denied the allegations, but confirmed that 50 teachers were detained during the protest for "illegally forcing their way through to the government's headquarters at Amman's Fourth Circle", which was the protest location designated by the JTA.

At the time, the government rejected the set location, allowing the teachers to hold their protest near Parliament in Abdali instead, however, teachers were adamant on the original spot, but were blocked from reaching Fourth Circle. 

Ghunaimat concluded the meeting with the press by saying that the teachers' salaries will be paid on time without any deductions.

She added that the education minister will determine how the 1.5 million students who were affected by the strike will be compensated for the lost classes.

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