AMMAN — “Stand up with the Teacher” campaign coordinator Nariman Al-Shawaheen feels that a measure of justice was made, if belated, to teacher Ruba, who, while eight months pregnant, died in March for lack of healthcare insurance.
Members of the campaign, which documented violations of the teacher’s rights, succeeded in ensuring that the deceased’s husband will now benefit from the fruit of her labor, and receive her social security and retirement dues.
According to Shawaheen, Ruba, who died on March 25, aged 34, did not have a written a contract with the private school where she last worked, and had not benefitted from social security during the years she had worked in different schools. She was earning a paltry JD140 a month at the time of her death.
In May, Ruba’s husband complained to members of the campaign that she was not covered by social security, even though she had worked at several private schools since 2017. The campaign filed a complaint against all the schools in which she had worked.
The “Stand up with the Teacher” campaign was established in 2015 after a study conducted by the International Labor Organization with the Pay Equity Committee found that there is were wage gaps in private schools. It was designed to empower women teachers working at private schools in Jordan to demand their labor rights.
The campaign published a questionnaire for a sample of 1,000 private schools teachers; the results were as follows: 54 percent received less than the minimum wage, 47 percent received salaries in hand, 30 percent had not signed the unified contract while 77 percent have not received a copy of the unified contract, and 81 percent did not get the teacher’s allowance.
Mohammed, who refused to give his surname, works as a teacher in several private schools; he told Jordan News that some private schools did not pay summer holiday salaries and have no written contracts signed with the teachers. “If a teacher asked the school to sign a contract, it forced that teacher to resign,” he said.
He also said that there is gender discrimination. A woman teacher would have to work longer hours for lower salaries because of the school’s belief that women teachers need to work, he said, stressing that the reason for this is lack of government oversight.
Omaima Ahmed, a teacher at a private school, told Jordan News that she needed one day off a month to attend a court session, which, if she did not attend, would see her lose her share of inheritance.
“I took a letter from the judge and sent it to the school. They said, ‘You do not have such leave (paid time off); the school only provides sick leave for teachers.’ Thus one working day was deducted from my salary,” she said.
The head of Worker’s House Hamada Abu Nijmeh told Jordan News that the absence of social security coverage of women teachers in the private sector “is one of the most serious violations of their rights. This practice results in the denial of social security insurance, in particular old-age, disability, death insurance, work injury insurance, and maternity insurance”, he said.
He added that there is weakness in monitoring the inclusion of women teachers in the Social Security Corporation, and that repeated violations are a “strong indicator that there is need to intensify supervision and inspection by the institution”.
Most prevalent violations or women teachers’ rights regard salaries. Many schools fail to adhere to the minimum monthly wage of JD260, even though the Ministry of Education started obliging private schools to pay teachers’ wages into their bank accounts as a condition for renewing school licenses.
The amount of fines imposed on violating schools must be increased, Abu Nijmeh said, “to become a deterrent, and electronic monitoring must be activated instead of relying only on field inspection”, especially since it is not right “to rely only on complaints submitted by teachers”.
Moreover, he said, one should be aware that “most teachers avoid submitting complaints, fearing the employer’s reaction, especially after women teachers were harmed as a result of complaining to the authorities and lacking protection”.
Director of the Private Education Department at the Ministry of Education Nawal Abu Reden said that the ministry monitors the transfer of teacher’s salaries to banks, and does not license any private school without proof of this action.
She was quoted by Jo24 as urging teachers in private schools who feel that their rights are violated in any way to inform the department, as well as the Ministry of Labor.