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Tensions escalate over teachers’ promised pay rise

In Jordan, an ongoing strike by the Jordan Teachers Association continues, with the union calling on the government to deliver on the 50 per cent salary increase agreed in 2014.

The Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) last week declared its fourth week of actions and strike as it attempts to obtain a pay rise negotiated with the Government five years ago. No agreement has been reached to date and tensions in the Jordanian capital, Amman, have reached unprecedented levels.

The government has suggested a minimal salary increase, which has been described by the union as “crumbs”. The JTA has also denounced the government’s 2014 decision to raise taxes in order to meet the legitimate demands of teachers for a decent status and working conditions. However, the salary increase was never implemented and the tax increase is instead part of an austerity package requested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mobilisation

Union actions have included demonstrations in front of the Ministry of Education headquarters at the beginning of September calling for the improvement of teachers’ working conditions. Those demonstrations were met with “the use of excessive force by security forces”, according to JTA, in order to disperse the crowd. At least 50 teachers were arrested, and all have been released.

After the union’s decision to continue the strike, the Ministry of Education said it would move to deduct 15 JOD (Jordanian Dinar) (19.25 Euro) from teachers’ salaries per day if they did not do their job regularly. The government also threatened to take administrative measures against teachers who abstain from teaching.

On Tuesday morning, the ministry issued several statements in which it said that the strike has ended in several schools and that the academic process has resumed.

The JTA, meanwhile, denied the claims, saying that the government attempts were meant to “undermine the will of the teachers”.

JTA and the Arab Spring

The union was established after the widespread demonstrations (Arab Spring) in 2011 and the amendments to the constitution that enabled workers to establish unions, including public sector employees. However, the Jordanian Labour Law still has many restrictions against freedom of association despite the constitutional amendments.  In addition, Jordan has not yet ratified the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

EI: Rights need to be guaranteed

EI General Secretary David Edwards has called on the Jordanian government to guarantee the fundamental rights of teachers and other workers to demonstrate peacefully and to respect the collective bargaining principles in accordance with its constitution and the international labour standards.

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