Jordan public teachers inaugurate new school year with strike
AMMAN - Jordanian public school teachers on Thursday ignored government calls to halt their strike to press for full annual bonuses, leaving hundreds of thousands of students at home.
Most of the country's 1.4 million public schoolchildren stayed at home, as a majority of the nearly 100,000 teachers kept away for a fourth consecutive day from the kingdom's 3,370 public schools.
"I urge the teachers to go back to work because the strike harms the schoolchildren," Education Minister Eid Dhayyat told a parliament meeting on Wednesday.
Teachers in the past have received a 100-percent increase in their annual bonus, but the government decided this year to give them a 70-percent raise and pay the remainder in installments over the coming three years.
"The decision has been taken in light of the current difficult economic situation," said Dhayyat, whose country's external debt amounts to $18 billion, more than 65% of gross domestic product.
He added that the government has agreed "to pay the teachers 10 percent more, making the increase in their annual bonus 80 percent. But they rejected the offer and insisted on striking."
"It's what the budget could afford ... the 30 percent costs the government 75 million dinars (more than $105 million)," he said.
Jordanians have held protests since January 2011 to demand economic and political reforms as well as an end to corruption.