Teachers Strike in Xuzhou City, Pei County, Jiangsu

16:07 Nov 8 2010 Peixian, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China

Teachers Strike in Xuzhou City, Pei County, Jiangsu
From Inside China Today:

Police have arrested and beaten striking teachers in Jiangsu Province. Teachers from several high schools in Pei County, Xuzhou City went on strike last week, prompting the police brutality. In anger, students from the schools tore up their midterm exams in protest. Locals say the teachers went on strike due to unpaid wages, and wage gaps between urban and countryside teachers.

Tongshan County in Xuzhou City was incorporated into the city district on September 28 this year. But the pay rates of teachers from Tongshan were not adjusted accordingly. On October 12th, teachers from the middle school went on strike, and their salaries were changed three days later. This incident sparked teachers from Pei County to do the same. Locals told SOH why the dispute began (recording):

“The government has been slow on teacher’s wages for about ten years now. Hundreds of thousands of teachers are affected. The teacher’s salary is already low, but they still hold back on it and don’t pay them on time. The cost of living is rising, and the teacher’s pay stays low. For about 1000 Chinese Yuan ($150 US Dollars) a month, the teachers are struggling for their livelihoods.”

On November 13th in Pei County, a maths teacher was dismissed, and another teacher, Mr. Jiang, was arrested. Police claimed it was to “maintain social order”. Students began throwing books, newspapers, and exam papers in protest of the police arrest. The police then came to arrest students, but angry students retaliated and smashed police car windows. Local residents say (recording):
“The teachers were beaten, and some were arrested. The students became angry and protested. Both teachers and students are underprivileged groups in Chinese society and can’t succeed. If the teachers don’t teach, they will be fired, and the government will use force to threaten them. If the teachers don’t cave in, they will not release any imprisoned teachers. Its exam time and one high school did not have anybody there to monitor it. Also, the exam and books are all torn and destroyed.”

One local resident living near Pei County Middle School told reporters, the teachers’ salary hasn’t seen an increase for a long time, and many retired teachers went on to appeal to higher authorities for years but without any success. (recording):
“The economy is said to be advancing fast, but how come they put less and less emphasis on education? The teachers are struggling right now. There are many situations in other parts of the country just like us. Our country is ranked amongst the top 100 richest counties in the country. We are number 88, but our teacher salary is among the lowest in the province. There are many retired teachers who get together to appeal for years, but the problem remains unresolved.”

Another resident told reporters, the salary paid to teachers in the city is twice as high as teachers in rural areas. Rural teachers are outraged. The strike isn’t reported by media, and is under government control. (recording):
“Teaching salaries in Pei County are quite low – about 1000 Chinese Yuan for a new graduate. Those with 10-20 years of experience make about 2,000 Yuan. The cost of living is on the rise, especially in the past two years. Teachers in the city get paid 3000-4000 Yuan (That’s about $450 – $600 US Dollars), so the teachers here are not happy. Since they are struggling for their livelihoods, the teachers went on strike. When police got involved, and when the students saw their teachers being treated unfairly, they supported them and refused to take midterm exams. The midterm exams are supposed to be held on Wednesday through Friday, but nobody has taken it.“

Teachers at Pei County No. 1 Middle School went on strike on November 8th. In the afternoon, teachers at other public schools, including Pei County Middle School, Pei County No.2 Middle School, and Huxi Middle School all went on strike.
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