Teachers association suspends four-week strike in Jordan

A public school teacher takes part in a protest as part of strike in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 04 October 2019

Teachers association suspends four-week strike in Jordan

  • The strike began on Sept. 8 with the teachers in Jordan demanding that the government respect its promise to give teachers a 50 percent pay raise

AMMAN: The elected council of the Jordan Teacher Association announced late on Thursday the suspension of the four-week strike and the return to regular teaching on Sunday. Association spokesman Nouriddin Nadim simply told the press that the “strike is suspended in compliance with the decision of the administrative court.”

Nadim said that he hoped that the government will respond with a similar gesture to help resolve the conflict. 

“The teachers association has responded positively to the court decision and we have closed this file. Now the government has until Saturday night to respond to the teachers’ demands and if they don’t we will call for a new strike starting Sunday morning.”

The strike began on Sept. 8 with the teachers demanding that the government of Jordan respect its promise to give teachers a 50 percent pay raise. Teachers also asked for an apology from the government and an investigation into the events of Sept. 5, when teachers were prevented from holding a protest demonstration outside the prime minister’s office.

The Jordanian government approved a modest pay raise last week. Simultaneously the administrative court declared on Sept. 29 that teachers should immediately suspend the strike but that the court will hear the case at a later stage. 

The teachers waited until they were duly served with the decision and then submitted an appeal, but the law is clear that adherence to the decision is needed first. The association met for two hours on Thursday afternoon and reluctantly approved the suspension of the strike and the withdrawal of the legal objection. 

“We are suspending the strike even though our demands have not been met and we are very unhappy at what happened,” an association representative said.

Sources told Arab News that the decision of the association’s top council was made after reliable intermediaries assured the teacher’s association that the government was willing to make an important offer to the association before Sunday. A legal adviser to the council to Arab News that the decision was made to abide by the law and to safeguard the possibility of one day calling for another form of protest, including a strike.

Ahmad Awad, the founder and director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, told Arab News that the teachers have won in their battle regardless of the results, and it represents a shout to all workers in the public and private sectors to fight for their rights. “The day after the strike is going to be better than the days before this strike. This should also be a lesson to future governments in how to deal with workers and their associations in an appropriate way,” he said.

Thouqan Obeidat, a veteran educator and a respected education strategist, said that the end of the strike without any resolution will not solve the problem because teachers will return in bad spirits.

“If during this weekend things loosen up and the teachers get a reasonable rise, the situation will go back to normal. This doesn’t mean that the teachers will be geniuses or that the educational system will be vastly improved because fixing education needs many solutions and they are not all monetary, but certainly if the teachers return without any change they will be devastated and the educational system will be in ruins,” he said.

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 39 min 25 sec ago

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”