Teachers across Jordan organized an indefinite strike - which began on Sunday - after negotiations with the government regarding an increase in salary yielded no results. For the fourth day in a row, instructors are adamant about not teaching until their demands of a 50 percent raise - promised to them in 2014 - are met. Teachers in Jordan get a monthly salary of $565, "the purchasing power of which has been depleted because of inflation and new taxes that have been levied over recent years."
This event took place days after an initial strike occurred last Thursday. The protesters dispersed after the Public Security Department (PSD) officers fired tear gas and arrested a number of them.
Vice President of the Jordanian Teachers' Syndicate (JTS), Naser Nawasrah, spoke on behalf of angered members, saying "[the teachers] will not enter the classrooms until those responsible for transgressions against teachers during Thursday's protest are held accountable."
In their defense, the PSD replied by explaining to the press that their personnel had practiced restraint, however, they "were driven to the use of force by some protesters who were shoving their way to reach the Fourth Circle [in Amman]."
On Monday, the government and JTS held a second meeting that lasted for three hours. Yet again, no agreements or compromises were formed. The agreement prior to the strikes was that teachers would get raises based on merits and improved performances, which could result in a 250 percent raise for the educator, instead of just 50 percent. Nawasrah countered this settlement, noting "If they can make money available based on merit, then the excuse that there is no money is rejected."
The country's 2019 budget cannot bear a 112 billion dinar ($158 million) dent. Therefore, in an attempt to reach consensus and keep the budget from going under, Wajih Oweis, former education minister, suggested a five-year-plan during which teachers would get a 10 percent raise each year.
In response to the aforementioned suggestion, Nawasrah disclosed to Radio Al-Balad during an aired interview that "Until now the government has not provided any numbers. Why should we agree to compromises that have not been offered to us? No government official or minister has contacted us directly with any numbers."
Jordan Prime Minister Omar Razzaz attempted to put a halt to the protests by hinting at possible legal implications that may befall the JTS. In an interview with Jordan Television on Tuesday, he said "There is a legal aspect to the strike; we believe in a strong state that is ruled by the law, and strong society and institutions that abide by it. In the event the [Jordan Teachers Syndicate (JTS)] insists on continuing with the strike, every action will have its consequence."
However, founder and director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, Ahmad Awad, mentioned to Arab News that the protests are in fact legal and are a civil act intended to improve Jordanian lives.
Awad also explained that "The teachers gave enough time before they went on strike and that is all that is needed, the conditions of teachers is very bad and their demands have been promised since 2014 so it is a legal and logical demand."