Teachers Strike in Longhui County, Hunan Province

13:20 Dec 2 2008 Longhui County, Hunan Province China

From China Worker:

On the same day, December 2, in Hunan province, more than 100 police in Laiyang City seized control of the city government building for three hours to demand increased wages, while in Longhui County, over 1,000 teachers took collective strike over unpaid allowances.

According to reports on the internet, at 11am on Tuesday, over 100 police and "contracted police deputies" in Laiyang City, staged protests at the government building. Some of the protesting policemen drove patrol cars onto the square. Most of the protesters were police assistants on temporary "contracts", but their number also included dozens of "formal" police officers. They seized the government building and a violent conflict took place with security guards.

The protesters demanded an increase in basic income for police and police assistants. Currently a "contracted" police assistant in Laiyang only earns 650 yuan per month, and the salary of "formal" police officers is also only two-thirds the level of police in Changsha, the provincial capital. It is believed that this is the first case of large-scale protest by policemen since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976.

400 million misappropriated

On the same day, in Longhui County (also in Hunan Province), over 1,000 teachers took strike action demanding allowance arrears from the local government. The strike organisers published a public letter, "Message to teachers of the whole county", calling for a sit-in by teachers in the whole county. They termed this a "soft strike", meaning that teachers should not leave the schools. Teachers said that local governments had misappropriated 400 million yuan from teachers' allowances over the past 10 years. This money is sent by central government to top up teachers' meagre earnings.

The striking teachers demand the county government and Board of Education immediately repay these subsidies, of 210 yuan per month, over several months. Since 2002 it was agreed teachers should receive 13 months' wages, but only got 12 months' wages. They demand the government pay these 5 months' wages. According to rules set by central government, the average wages of teachers in compulsory education should not be lower than the average wages of local civil servants. Following the example of this teachers' strike, it was reported that teachers in the neighbouring county of Shaoyang also planned similar protestx.

One retired teacher in Shaoyang county told Radio Free Asia, "We appealed many times to the county government and even the provincial government, but they stalled and did not reply to our demands. We have to go on strike, and even sit-strike in front of the provincial government building."

China has experienced a wave of teachers strikes recently. has recieved reports of 31 strikes in 8 provinces including, in addition to Hunan, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Hubei. The conditions of teachers are precarious despite promises by China's government to give more money to education.
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