Jordan’s public school teachers' union called for a strike on Sunday in demand for a pay increase. This follows news of the government tying state teachers’ raises to career variables--performance gauges set by the ministry of education--which the union vehemently rejected.
The strike will continue to be held despite ongoing dialogue between the union and state, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, stressing that the union is in debate for a series of escalatory actions should their demands remain unmet.
Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that union official Nasser Al Nawasra refused a government offer and maintained the union’s demands for an unconditioned pay increase to all state teachers.
“There was an agreement on this with the government, but the government backtracked on its commitment,” teachers’ union spokesman Noureddine Nadim said in a statement Thursday.
Nawasra told AFP that public school teachers were “the lowest-paid public officials.”
“I’ve been teaching for 24 years, and my salary doesn’t go above 760 dinars ($1,070)” per month, al-Nawasra said.
The teachers’ union was established in 2011 and includes about 140,000 members. Organizers of the demonstration in the capital, Amman, said the government has yet to deliver on a 50 percent wage increase agreed upon in 2014.
It is worth noting that the streets of Jordanian cities saw mass protests last year over spiking consumer prices.
The government said in a statement that it is committed to dialogue with the teachers but that classes should not be interrupted and performance must improve.
Early on, during the teachers' sit-in, the government arrested 49 teachers who were later released on bail on Thursday.
Government circles accuse Islamists in Jordan of egging the union on for the strikes by several associates.
“We respect the teachers and we salute their role and their mission, but the 50% increase demanded by the union will add JOD 112 million ($158 million) to the state budget,” Ministry of Education spokesman Walid Jallad said in a statement.