On 6 October 2019, the Jordanian government agreed to raise salaries of public school teachers from 35% to 60% beginning in 2020. After years of protest, Nasser Al Nawasrah, Deputy Head of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate, announced the beginning of a mass teacher strike on the 8th of September 2019 and refused to call it off until the government guaranteed them higher salaries.
Three days prior to the announcement, public school teachers from all over Jordan met at the capital, Amman, to demonstrate against their low salaries, which are approximately between 360 to 450 JDS a month.
Public school teachers have been demanding a pay raise for years prior to the strike. In 2014, the government promised the syndicate, otherwise known as the Jordan Teacher’s Association (JTA) a 50% pay raise, but did not implement the policy, Teachers were also unsatisfied with previous compromises suggested by the government, such as Education Minister Walid Maani’s offer of a 50% raise with the condition of cutting benefits. The strike continued for a month; it involved the participation of around 100,000 teachers and prevented 1.5 million students from attending classes.
The government argued that the teachers’ demanded an excessive amount, around 116 million JDs over considering Jordan’s public debt of 29.5 billion JDS, inflationary spiral, and lack of resources.
Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz offered a compromise on the 29th of September, in which monthly salaries would increase by JD24 to JD31, depending on whether the teacher is an ‘assistant,’ ‘first,’ or ‘expert.’ Al Nawasrah responded, “We donate these breadcrumbs to the government.”
By the 30th of September, parents had filed a lawsuit against the absent teachers, attempting to place more pressure on both the JTA and the government to reopen schools for their children. The Ministry of Education tried to open schools back to students despite the strike, both by declaring the strike illegal and instructing schools to find substitute teachers. The JTA refused to discontinue the strike and did not teach classes until they were given a pay raise.
Al Nawasreh finally ended the strike with an announcement: “The teachers got their demands.”