Riot police deployed as teachers in central China stage protest over unpaid wages

More than 1,000 took part in demonstration in Hunan province

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 May, 2016, 12:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 May, 2016, 12:41pm

More than 1,000 teachers protested in front of a government headquarters in central China alleging that their full salaries and benefits had not been paid.

The protest started on Tuesday after teachers from a county in Hengyang in Hunan province claimed the local government had failed to pay their full wages, subsidies and social welfare insurance contributions, the news website reported.

Videos and photographs circulated online showed uniformed police officers with riot shields stationed in front the county government headquarters.

“We want a life”, “we want our salaries,” “we want to defend our rights”, teachers shouted or demanded on banners, a video of the protest showed.

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Scuffles broke out between police and protesters, but no one was injured, the report said.

Many teachers travelled from towns and villages around Hengyang county to attend the protest, according to the article.

A protestor claimed staff had been docked wages and social insurance contributions for over 20 years, while some had also been overcharged for other administration fees.

Another protestor accused the local government of spending too much money on high-profile vanity projects instead of paying basic salaries to teachers.

The teachers said in an open letter that they were struggling to make ends meet with rising inflation.

“As the world’s most comprehensive professional, we work as gatekeepers, security guards, riot police, doctors, nannies, detectives and devote our whole life to teach all we know to pupils,” it said.

“But we are paid with the darkest salaries to work on the world’s brightest job, living such a low-down life. How ironic it is.”

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A deputy governor of Hengyang county was quoted as saying on Wednesday that paying salaries to teachers was a local public finance priority.

He claimed the government had budgeted 1.5 billion yuan (HK$1.8 billion) this year to pay teachers and other public employees, which accounted for a large portion of the county’s fiscal revenue.