Unpaid teachers protest in rural China

Teachers want payment of arrears and pension contributions. Beijing orders local authorities in Dafang to pay up. Protests break out in Anhui, Liaoning, Guangdong and Jiangxi. For China Labour Bulletin, nothing has changed since 2016 reports. Teachers also educate the children of migrant workers.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Protests by teachers in China’s rural areas are growing over low pay, wage delays, benefits in arrears and pension contributions, this according to a report recently published by the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin (CLB).

Dafang County (Guizhou) is a case in point. Last month, after five years of wage delays, teachers turned on local authorities and petitioned the central government, which ordered local authorities to pay teachers the 470 million yuan (US$ 70 million) they are owed.

An investigation is also pending for possible misappropriation of funds by local officials. The latter forced teachers to invest into a highly suspicious credit cooperative scheme.

The case received wide coverage in the national media, and triggered a wave of protests by teachers in farming areas in provinces like Liaoning, Anhui, Jiangxi and Guangdong.

In a 2016 study, the CLB had already noted that Chinese teachers, especially in rural areas, were often not paid or only receive part of their salary. In the past four years, little has changed according to the Hong Kong-based labour rights organisation.

In 2018, for example, police broke up a mass protest staged by the teaching staff in Lu’han (Anhui). The incident provoked public outrage and even criticism by the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party.

Staff in rural school are under extreme pressure in China and work in difficult conditions. In addition to local pupils, they have to take care of the children of migrant workers who, according to official statistics, number more than 290 million.