Chinese Teachers Go On Strike

December 29, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015

Thousands of teachers are on strike in Chongqing City, Sichuan Province in southwest China.  (Web photo)
Thousands of teachers are on strike in Chongqing City, Sichuan Province in southwest China. (Web photo)
Over 5,000 teachers in Liaoning Province in northeast China have been on strike for days calling for salary increases and better benefits. While the authorities have not officially responded, school leaders are trying every means to put down the strike.

The strike in Changtu County, Tieling City is one of many large-scale teacher strikes that have broken out across China in 2008 to demand fair treatment. Teachers in Changtu complained that teachers’ salaries in their county are the lowest in the city, about 300 yuan (US$44.12) to 1,000 yuan ($146.63) lower than nearby counties each month.

Besides, teachers said, local authorities have been delaying their payment since 1986 and still owe them wages. They also accused the local officials for deducing pension and unemployment insurance fees from their salaries without their consent as well as embezzling educational funds.

A local teacher said she was paid only 1,183.6 yuan ($174.06) each month. With current soaring prices, teachers like her can hardly make ends meet. “Who can focus on teaching when we are hardly able to feed ourselves and pay for our kids’ education?” she said.

But organizing a strike is never easy in China. Teachers even do not dare to elect a representative to negotiate with authorities because everyone fears revenge from the government. Local officials ordered school administrators to monitor their teachers, and threatened to fire those who fail to control the teachers. In response, school administrators are trying their best to prevent teachers from striking. Some administrators threatened to fire teachers who participate in the assemblies, and some even shut teachers inside the schools and guarded the school gates themselves.

A local teacher said the county officials sat in their classrooms everyday to watch the teachers and make sure they cannot petition to higher authorities. The same teacher, who has been working for her school for 22 years, also reported that the teachers’ cell phones and computers are all under surveillance, and that her school’s internet access had been cut off.

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