After protests, Jordan court orders teachers' union to be shut across the country

Jordan's ancient city of Petra is pictured empty of tourists on June 1, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. (AFP)

Jordan's judiciary on Saturday ordered a two-year closure of the teachers' union as part of an investigation into alleged graft, state media reported.

The move came three days after the Teachers' Association organized a demonstration attended by hundreds of protesters demanding the government honor a 2019 agreement for a rise in wages.

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The government and the union, which represents 100,000 teachers, had reached the deal after a month-long strike over salaries.

The teachers had been demanding a 50-percent salary hike and had obtained raises ranging from 35 to 75 percent.

But in April, the cash-strapped government said it would freeze public sector raises this year, citing economic woes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The teachers' union responded by calling for a demonstration on Wednesday, during which union leader Nasir al-Nawasra urged authorities to respect their promises.

On Saturday, Amman prosecutor-general Hassan Abdallat ordered a two-year closure of the headquarters of the Teachers Association, its branches and offices nationwide, official Petra news agency said.

Read more: Jordan's response to coronavirus: Leave no one behind

He also summoned members of the union's council for questioning on "criminal and corruption charges," Petra said.

Petra did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged "crimes" but quoted Abdallat as saying they included "financial violations."

The prosecutor also issued a gag order on investigations into the case, the agency said.

Jordan is highly dependent on foreign aid and has struggled to curb its public debt, which stands at more than $40 billion, while unemployment in the first quarter of 2020 hit 19.3 percent.

The vital tourism sector, which brought in $5 billion last year, was battered by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

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Last Update: Saturday, 25 July 2020 KSA 21:20 - GMT 18:20
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