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Jordan teachers end strike in pay deal with government

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[FILES] Public school teachers gather for a demonstration demanding pay raises, at the Professional Associations Complex in Jordan’s capital Amman on October 3, 2019. (Photo by Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

Jordanian teachers ended a month-long strike on Sunday after reaching an agreement with the government for a rise in wages.

The strike, which began on September 8 just a week into the school year, paralysed some 4,000 public schools in the kingdom where more than 1.4 million students are enrolled.

The teachers had demanded a 50-percent hike in their salaries, “the lowest among state employees,” according to the union.

Union leader Nasir al-Nawasra said the “historic” strike was halted after a deal was reached with the government on “raises and an apology”.

The union, which represents 100,000 teachers, obtained a revaluation of its members’ salaries ranging from 35 to 75 percent, he told an Amman press conference.

The government had previously refused to meet the union’s demands, proposing in late September it grants the teachers a raise of 24 to 31 dinars ($34-$44) instead.

Monthly salaries for public school teachers in Jordan range between $500 and $1,000.

Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz claimed the increase was all the government could afford “given the current economic circumstances”.

Minister of State for Legal Affairs Mubarak Abu Yamin, who led the government delegation in negotiations, told the press conference the agreement was reached “thanks to the directives of King Abdullah II” and the “government’s determination that teachers should be able to hold their heads high”.

Cash-strapped Jordan is highly dependent on foreign aid and has struggled to curb its debt since securing a major loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.

Unemployment in the resource-poor kingdom remains at 19 percent and the poverty rate hovers at more than 15 percent, according to official figures.

Jordan has blamed its economic woes on instability wracking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees without adequate international support.

More than 650,000 Syrian refugees are registered with the UN refugee agency in Jordan.


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