Jordanian teachers at public schools nationwide will hold another strike on Monday in a move meant to press the government to reconsider its recent decision to increase fuel prices.
On Sunday, Jordan’s unions went on strike to protest the hike in fuel prices, two days after thousands of demonstrators in Amman called for the king to go, an official told AFP.
The Jordanian government decided last week to lift subsidies on oil derivatives, raising the prices of four fuel products in a daring decision it said was aimed to avoid further financial losses and address an unprecedented budget deficit.
The Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) decided to resume on Monday a strike it began on Sunday in protest against the recent rise in prices, despite government’s appeals for teachers to reconsider their decision and give a priority to Jordan’s interests.
“All 15 unions except the nurses’ union stopped working between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm (0800-1100 GMT) on Sunday,” Mahmud Abu Ghunayma, head of Jordan’s 15-member professional associations body told AFP.
“This is a message to the government, to tell them that the situation is snowballing and the king must intervene to reverse this decision (to raise fuel prices),” he said.
The head of the doctors’ union, Ahmed al-Armuti, said the strike had excluded “emergency sectors,” including midwifery and nursing.
The teachers’ union told AFP it striked on Sunday, with spokesman Ayman al-Akur saying “the strike was observed by 70 to 75 percent of schools across the country”.
According to Jordan’s Al Rai Arabic daily, the JTA decided to resume its strike on Monday, quoting president of syndicate Mustafa Rawashdeh as saying that the next step will be taken after consultation with the council members of the newly-formed union.
In a statement carried by Al Rai, the JTA called on King Abdullah to annul the government’s recent economic decisions.
According to The Jordan Times, a meeting held on Saturday between Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Rawashdeh and association council members failed to convince the teachers to go back on their decision.
“We bet on you [teachers] to be genuine leaders of the community out of the sense of responsibility you have towards the country and the fact that you stand by it in tough times,” Ensour was quoted in the English daily as telling members of the JTA.
The JTA president and council members held a press conference immediately after their meeting with the premier, announcing that the syndicate, an umbrella of more than 100,000 teachers, will go ahead with its decision to hold a strike, The Jordan Times reported.
Rawashdeh said the strike had no political implications but completely economic and was meant to “stand” beside citizens, particularly the underprivileged, stressing that the work stoppage will not be open ended.
“We [teachers] do not adopt any slogan that calls for the downfall of the regime,” Rawashdeh was quoted as saying in The Jordan Times.
Thousands of people staged an unprecedented protest on Friday calling for King Abdullah II to go, expressing anger at the price hikes, which will see the cost of household gas rise by 53 percent.
Calling for the king’s overthrow is punishable by imprisonment so the slogans were a major departure for a kingdom previously spared protests on the scale of other countries swept up in the Arab Spring.
Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur on Saturday defended the price hike, saying the decision was “unavoidable” given the country’s $5 billion (3.9 billion euro) budget deficit, and that the measures would save $42 million by year-end.
Initial protests on Wednesday and Thursday against the announcement descended into violence, killing one person and injuring 71 others, police said.