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Gov’t, teachers again call for dialogue but fail to sit at one table

Ministry requests list of all teachers on strike; JTA says syndicate ‘alone’ accountable

By JT - Sep 16,2019 - Last updated at Sep 16,2019

AMMAN — Both the government and the Jordan Teachers' Association (JTA) on Sunday reiterated their commitment to dialogue but no direct talks were held to end a nationwide teacher strike, now in its second week.

The government said it welcomed an invitation by the syndicate for dialogue, in which the syndicate’s vice president, Naser Nawasrah, called on Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to set a meeting place for Sunday afternoon to discuss teachers’ demand of a 50-per cent pay raise.

In a statement later in the day, the government noted that the taskforce designated to follow up on the teachers' strike is prepared to meet the JTA’s board at the Ministry of Education, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

However, in a video statement on the JTA’s official social media accounts, Nawasrah said that the association has met several times with the taskforce and the talks reached a dead-end every time because the taskforce was not authorised to fulfill the teachers’ demand.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry called on its directorates on Sunday to provide it with the names of teachers who are still on strike and are still abstaining from attending classes, according to Petra.

In a communiqué to the directorates, the ministry asked to show the number of days of abstaining from work for each teacher since the beginning of the scholastic year, with their ministerial numbers and schools they work at.

The JTA responded by reiterating that “all teachers are complying with the JTA’s instructions”, stressing that the JTA alone holds the responsibility for the strike and teachers’ abstaining from work.

On Saturday, the JTA rejected a letter by the premier stressing the need for students and teachers to return to the classroom and for the educational process to continue, criticising the letter’s failure to address the 50-per cent raise upon which the strike was initiated. 

The JTA underlined that the strike will continue until the delivery of the pay raise, which they say had been promised by the government since 2014 but was never implemented.

Several meetings between the government and the syndicate and mediation efforts by members of Parliament over the past two weeks have so far failed to arrive at an agreement to end the strike in the Kingdom’s public schools, in which some 1.5 million students are enrolled.

The government is adamant on an agreement signed with the previous JTA board that ties salary increase to performance, under which raises can reach 250 per cent.

It says that the JTA’s demand of a 50-per cent raise would cost the Treasury around JD112 million.

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