AMMAN—A month-long strike by Jordanian teachers has come to a conclusion, with the government agreeing to raise teachers’ salaries and meet several other demands. Classes resumed October 6, with plans to make up the lost month of instruction time over the course of the year.
“This was a historic event in Jordan,” says Kifah Abu Farhan, a member of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate’s steering committee. Until now “there was no consciousness on teachers’ part of what a syndicate could do.” After succeeding in winning material concessions from the government, the syndicate will now focus on “making efforts to develop teachers and the teaching profession.”
Teachers will receive 35 percent raises, less than their original demand of 50 percent. They will also have expanded healthcare benefits, more control over the administration of their pension fund, and greater support for training.
The strike, in which the overwhelming majority of the country’s approximately 100,000 teachers participated, was a rare instance of public sector mobilization in the region and a victory for the teachers’ syndicate, which was established in 2012.
The teachers went on strike when a raise they say was promised to them in 2014 never materialized.
The authorities used a number of approaches to try to curtail the strike, explained Abu Farhan, ranging from threats to negative media campaigns to small immediate concessions.
Teachers attempting to gather in September in Amman were met with a huge security deployment, which closed most of the capital’s main streets and squares. Teachers were tear-gassed and rushed by police, and some were arrested—which only strengthened the resolve of the protesters, with the union’s leader promising that teachers would not enter the classroom “until those responsible for transgressions against teachers … were held responsible.”