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Dialogue should triumph

Sep 12,2019 - Last updated at Sep 12,2019

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz came in crystal clear and strong in a recorded statement to the country, but especially to teachers, carried by the Jordan Radio and Television Corporation on Tuesday on the stalemate in the teachers’ controversy.

The Prime Minister may have summed up the current status of the confrontation with the Jordan Teachers’ Association when he said "we are faced with only two choices: Either a dialogue or escalation".

Razzaz kept the door wide open for a "dialogue" on the issue of raising the salaries of teachers by 50 per cent. Razzaz noted that there are teachers who deserve this raise while others do not.

The position of the government offers an opening that should be seized upon in a desperate bid for defusing tensions first, and secondly keeping the door wide open for a sincere and constructive dialogue.

The ball is now in the teachers’ court, and their association must not miss this golden opportunity for ending the deadlock on their demands for a fair raise on their salaries.

No one doubts, Razzaz said, that teachers face economic hardships and can barely make ends meet. On closer look, this problem is practically faced by all government employees and most other categories of employees.

The prime minister could be entertaining a two-tier salary standard by according a differential treatment to worthy teachers, while denying it to others.

A double-standard wage scheme could pose a problem though, as it may open new windows for confrontation better left closed. Who will make this decision, and worse still what standard shall be applied to avoid the allegation that it is discriminatory? This posture would open a Pandora’s box that would be difficult, if not impossible, to close!

The main message of Razzaz must not be missed though: The government is extending an olive branch to the JTA and is open-minded on a fresh round of negotiations with them. The government is suing for peace and a dialogue that the teachers must not ignore or refuse.

All sides must bear in mind the indisputable fact that what we are all talking about here is the right to an education that students must not be denied. As long as all negotiations between the two sides are focused on this fundamental issue, it should not be too difficult to surmount all existing differences.

Once again, while the right to education is absolute, the right to strike is qualified.

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