The deputy head of the Jordanian Teachers Syndicate, Nasser Nawasrah, said that the Syndicate Council welcomes dialogue with the government directly and without intermediaries, stressing that any dialogue must be preceded by an official decision to return the union to its usual work, to open the headquarters of the branches, and to return to the decision to stop the hand of the Syndicate Council, and release The arrested teachers.
Nawasrah said in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net that there is currently no decision, or even before, to organize a strike for teachers at the beginning of the school year.
He stressed that teachers are eager for their students, sending a message of reassurance to the students' families that "your children are in safe hands and are keen to provide them with all knowledge, benefit and correct education."
Two days ago, the Jordanian authorities released the vice president of the Teachers ’Syndicate, Nawasrah, and the members of the union’s council, after a month-long arrest. The decision to imprison them preceded the closure of the union’s main headquarters in Amman and the headquarters of the branches in the governorates of the Kingdom, curbing the hands of the council’s members, and forming a government committee to manage the union, by a judicial decision.
The following is the text of the interview:
What are the demands of teachers and the union council today, after your release from prison?
The most important of our demands is that the union return to what was before last July 25, so that the union would return to its usual work and the council would return to its place, with the cancellation of the decision to stop the hand of the council, and the abolition of the administrative committee formed by the Minister of Education without legal basis, because the union council is legitimate, and came with elections Democratic and fair in which 150,000 male and female teachers have expressed their will.
As well as the government's commitment to implement the agreement signed last year between the government and the teachers union, and to complete the items that were not fulfilled. The government fulfilled a number of items, but there were other items that were not implemented.
We were not responsible for the recent events. We were surprised by the arrest of members of the Syndicate Council in the governorates of the Kingdom, and the arrest of hundreds of teachers for varying periods, some of whom were arrested for hours, and some of them are still in detention.
With the necessity of the immediate release of the rest of the detained and free teachers who supported us in defending our just cause, and the abolition of all financial guarantees that the detainees signed under pressure and coercion, some of which amounted to one million dinars, with their pledge not to participate in any peaceful march or sit-in demanding the rights of teachers.
What are the next moves that the Syndicate Council is considering to achieve these demands, and are you considering a strike at the start of the school year next week?
We are in the process of holding meetings for members of the Syndicate Council this week to discuss the next steps to restore our rights, and we hope that we will not resort to any escalatory measures to achieve the previous demands, especially the restoration of the union and the return of the legitimate Council of the Syndicate to its work.
Our protest steps will be new, innovative, and compatible with defense orders, and there will be no breach of laws and instructions. We are the first to abide by the laws, and we teach students to respect and abide by them.
Currently, there is no decision to organize a strike for teachers at the beginning of the school year, and we long for our students, and we assure the students' families that your children are in safe hands and are keen to provide them with all the knowledge, benefit and correct education.
Our demands are professional human rights and living related to teachers, we do not have any political demands, and we insist on obtaining our rights, and the state of intimidation of teachers and their union is nothing but an attempt to distort the image, and we are keen people on the interest of our students.
But there are those who accuse you of carrying out a partisan agenda, through a state of escalation regarding restoring the bonus?
Unfortunately, this is a broken record, whose repiters seek to demonize the union and disturb the bright image of the union. The Syndicate Council forms a beautiful mosaic case that includes all spectrums of Jordanian society, and there is no majority for any political party.
And the Syndicate Law prohibits practicing any partisan action within the Syndicate, and we are committed to that, which are attempts to mislead Jordanian public opinion, but the Jordanian people have proven, through their confidence and circumvention of the demands of the Teachers Union, their rejection of such false accusations.
The teachers union does not seek chaos, on the contrary, the union sought to calm the local conditions in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections, but the surprise was the governmental measures that strained the country’s atmosphere and caused a crisis, and deprived teachers of their union.
But during your stay in prison, I presented several initiatives to solve the crisis, but you refused them?
Unfortunately, these are rumors propagated by some to hold teachers responsible for the crisis, so that the Syndicate Council, who has been detained in prison and whose rights has been deprived, appears as the direct cause of the crisis, and that whoever bears responsibility for what happened.
During my stay in prison, no initiative was given to us by any official or civil party to resolve the crisis, and I did not receive official messages during the prison phase through personalities from my relatives who asked me to resign from my position, so that things would return as they were.
And the other messages that I received were indirectly from many personalities asking me to leave union work in exchange for folding this file, and I repeatedly refused that, whether during my time in prison or after I was taken to hospital during my hunger strike.
Is it possible to see an initiative by the Syndicate Council to solve this crisis, for example delaying the demand for a bonus at the beginning of next year, in exchange for the reopening of the union and the return of the council to its previous work, or any consensus formula?
We have two parts of the demands, what happened after the 25th of July of the closure of the Syndicate and its branches in the Kingdom, the cessation of the hand of the Council, and the rest of the governmental measures and accusations against us, and our demand to cancel all of these decisions, and it is not possible to negotiate with the government on these measures.
As for the issue of the agreement, it was to be implemented at the beginning of this year, and an attempt to portray the teachers ’protest that it came about stopping the financial allowance, as this is unfair and unfair to the teachers, especially since the suspension of the allowance came deliberately after teachers received it for a period of four months of this year.
The government's decision to stop the financial bonus came against the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein that defense decisions do not affect citizens' financial rights or restrict freedom of expression.
When talking about the financial bonus, it has been stopped for all public sector employees, whether military or civilian, and the government promised to return it at the beginning of next year 2021. Why did the union reject the bonus, and is it its problem with the bonus?
Certainly, the union’s problem is not to stop the financial bonus, and the union made half of its liquidity a financial donation in favor of the Coronavirus Spread Fund, through a donation of half a million Jordanian dinars ($ 700,000), even though the Teachers ’Union is one of the poorest professional unions.
And the talk that teachers ’anger at stopping the financial allowance was an attempt to flatten and distort the union, and teachers make up more than 53% of the worlds in the civil sector, and when workers in the Ministry of Health, government companies and independent bodies were excluded from stopping the allowance and disbursing it to them, teachers now make up 75% of the employees The civil sector.
Which clearly indicates that the decision to stop the allowance was targeting teachers and dealing with them with a vengeful mentality of some government officials, and teachers are the most affected by stopping this allowance, because it formed a lifeline for them in light of the high cost of living, and stopping it was harsh on them.
In conclusion, is the Syndicate Council ready for direct dialogue with the government or through mediators to find a solution to this crisis, and do you have any prior reservations?
We are ready for any dialogue with the government directly, and we reject any mediators between us, but before any dialogue, the Syndicate must return to its work as usual and open the branches' headquarters, return to the decision to stop the hand of the Syndicate Council, and release the arrested teachers and not arrest them again.
We are dealing with high responsibility, and there is a state of popular consensus on the demands of teachers and a real rally around the union, which represents the largest segment of employees. There is hardly a house without a teacher or teacher, and it represents the largest professional unions.