China Labour Bulletin Press Release
Refusing to put up with the 20% wage cut imposed by the central government earlier this year, retired teachers in the coastal province of Jiangsu took to the streets on December 11, 2002.
Early that morning, about 100 retired teachers in the northwestern city of Pizhou in Jiangsu Province staged a sit-in outside the city government demanding the outstanding 20% of their payment. Getting no response from the city government, the protesting teachers marched through the street at noon.
The local education authority confirmed on the protest. An official told CLB that there are 20,000 teachers in Pizhou City, among whom 2,000 have retired. He further explained that the wage issue came out of a new State Council policy on a uniform pay scheme for all civil servants (retired and serving teachers included). Under the new policy, the central government will take care of 80% of the payment with the remaining 20% paid out of local coffers if and when finance permitting [own emphasis Ed].
Follow-up interviews indicated that the 20% floating wages were simply another word for 'wage cut'.
An official at the local finance department told CLB that she had been paid Rmb500 a month, a reduction of Rmb300, under the new scheme. Civil servants here are not happy as well, she complained. Another official from Picheng Town said in a similar tone, The senior staff members here are highly dissatisfied.
Responding to CLBs inquiries, Mr. Jia, director of the general office of the local government, said that the problem had been resolved. We have talked to [the protesting teachers]. Now they understand our financial difficulties and accept the State Council policy
Its the decision of the State Council, not ours
[The new pay scheme] is stated in the document, Mr. Jia said.
It remains to be seen whether the protesting teachers are really going to stay silent. A local informant told CLB that they would possibly take further action if the local government would fail to settle the 20% balance by the end of this month.
In China, teachers cannot organise their own trade unions, and thus have no channels to bargaining collectively with the central and local governments. CLB holds that the administrative approach of unilaterally forcing new employment terms onto the teachers (and other civil servants) is unfair and unacceptable.
The International Labour Organisation upholds the fundamental principles of free association and collective bargaining. CLB demands that the Chinese government, as an ILO member, honours its obligation and negotiate with the teachers or their representatives on the terms of employment.
China Labour Bulletin
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