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Teachers suspend strike

By Laila Azzeh - Nov 19,2012 - Last updated at Nov 19,2012

AMMAN — The Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) decided on Monday to suspend its strike at the Kingdom’s schools, “taking into account students’ interests at the time being”.

The association on Sunday had decided to continue the strike on Monday in protest against the government’s recent decision to liberalise fuel prices. It had retracted an open-strike call made Wednesday morning. 

The association’s council has been holding a daily meeting with JTA branches to discuss the next step to be taken. 

“Our suspension of the strike does not mean that we will not resort to it in the future when necessary,” JTA Vice President Hussam Masheh told The Jordan Times on Monday. 

He added that the association wanted to “send a message to citizens that it stands beside them and is concerned about their situation”, stressing that the strike is only one way for protesting and that other measures will be taken to show the JTA’s rejection of the government’s economic decision. 

“Unfortunately, there was a fierce campaign against the association and many have questioned its intentions behind the move… our strike was merely for economic and social reasons and not political in any way,” Masheh highlighted. 

The association also took part in a march organised by the Professional Associations Council on Monday from its headquarters in Shmeisani to the Prime Ministry, but the JTA vice president underlined that the syndicate “does not adopt any slogans that were raised against the regime”. 

On the response rate to Monday’s strike, which the Ministry of Education said was “weak”, Masheh said that the strike was “stronger than ever”.

He reiterated claims that striking teachers were “terrorised” by security apparatuses and education departments, particularly in girls’ schools. 

“Female teachers were forced by the police in some schools to give classes,” he claimed. 

However, Public Security Department Spokesperson Lt. Col. Mohammad Khatib dismissed these accusations as baseless on Sunday, saying that police are “not concerned with what associations or teachers do”.

“It is not our duty to go after teachers to check if they give classes or not… we only handle security and police issues,” he said.

“We will hold accountable all those who are proven to be involved in mistreating any teachers,” Masheh told The Jordan Times. 

In a statement, the JTA said that four teachers released on Sunday after being arrested for taking part in protests over fuel prices were subject to “physical and psychological torture” and that it will file a lawsuit through the Jordan Bar Association against those who are proven to be involved in the mistreatment.

Earlier this year, thousands of teachers went on strike to demand better living conditions.

After about 12 days of work stoppage, the government responded to their calls and sealed a deal with them that added to the increasing burden on the budget.

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