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No longer a labour dispute

Oct 01,2019 - Last updated at Oct 01,2019

The crisis of the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) is becoming outrageous after the association rejected outright a court decision to suspend its strike.

An order of the court to just suspend the strike is not asking for too much. The government has gone a long way to negotiate a fair deal to end the strike, which is now in its fourth week. The refusal of the JTA to abide by the court's decision is simply unprecedented. The teachers' union still clings to its original demand for a 50 per cent raise, coupled with an apology. This is far beyond what any country of law and order would accept.

After the intervention of the judiciary, the JTA has to respect it and deal by its terms. Now the country is facing a new ball game, in which one Jordanian association refuses to abide by a court order. The options left for the government are now limited: Either it must enforce the court decision or incarcerate those responsible for the rejection of the court decision.

Respect for the judiciary in Jordan is paramount. The JTA should respect this principle.

Now, the government needs to give notices to teachers that if they do not respect the court's decision, they could lose their right to teach under the circumstances and their employment rights. If this narrative continues unabated, there is no other choice left for the government except to recruit new teachers for the current scholastic year. This will not be easy, but under the circumstances there is no other choice.

The government, meanwhile, can request a poll to be taken of the striking teachers to determine who is for and who is against the strike. It seems that the teachers have no more say in their future. Once such a poll is taken, the country as a whole will know whether the JTA does, in fact, represent the wishes and aspirations of teachers in Jordan. Otherwise, this crisis can only get worse by the day, with no end in sight.

At the end of the day, all sides, including the JTA, must comprehend that what is at stake is the right of students to education. They have been denied this constitutional right for much too long and it is no longer just a labour dispute.

The overriding objective to providing education to students of all ages must be respected, even if it entails resorting to the judiciary once again to deal with the refusal of the association to abide by its ruling.

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