Omar Razzaz pleads with Jordan’s teachers to return to work

The Jordanian Prime Minister issued an apology to teachers on Facebook

Omar Al Razzaz, Prime Minister of Jordan during the Session: Shaping the Future of Tourism in Jordan  at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2019, Jordan 2019. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell

Jordan’s Prime Minister has appealed to the country’s teachers to return to work after a month-long strike over pay.

In a Facebook message posted for World Teachers' Day, Omar Razzaz said he looked forward to teachers returning to classrooms  "with their heads held high to fulfill their duty toward the generation.”

"We call upon you, our teachers, to listen to your hearts and minds and heed the sacred message of education,” the post continued.

Teachers are demanding the 50 per cent increase on their base pay promised by the government in 2014; so far the government has only offered an increase of JD23-JD31 per month, depending on the teachers’ seniority. This “final offer’ was rejected by teachers on Tuesday.

Mr Razzaz apologised to the country’s teachers for their treatment  by police during the protests, saying the government “regrets any incident in which a teacher's dignity was assaulted”.

Teachers have demanded an apology from the government for the way it handled an Amman sit-in in early September.

Although largely peaceful, there were reports of security forces using tear gas in an attempt to disperse demonstrators and a number of arrests were made.

Mr Razzaz, who is battling labour demands and a national debt crisis, pledged to complete an investigation into the complaints, adding that the government is waiting for the results of a report by the National Centre for Human Rights.

The prime minister’s Facebook post came the day after the Jordanian Teachers’ Syndicate announced a temporary suspension of its public school strike until Saturday, pending talks with the government.

However, if their demands remain unmet, strike action will resume on Sunday, the syndicate promised.

Last Sunday an administrative ruled the strike illegal and ordered teachers to reopen classes with the threat of arrest for breaking the court order. However, teachers remained at home.

On Thursday the Ministry of Education said teachers would be docked 15 Jordanian dinars (Dh78) from their wages for each day they did not teach, local media reported.