Unpaid teachers in Hunan scuffle with riot police

HONG KONG • More than 1,000 teachers picketed outside a government headquarters in central China this week, prompting the authorities to send in riot police.

The teachers from a county in Hengyang in Hunan province said that their full salaries and social welfare benefits had not been paid, reported the South China Morning Post yesterday.

"We want a life. We want our salaries," the teachers demanded in one video of the protest.

The two-day protest began on Tuesday and most teachers resumed teaching on Thursday, according to the Chinese website of Radio Free Asia. It said that two teachers were detained.

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

Scuffles broke out between police and protesters, but no one was injured, said a report on news website Guancha.cn.

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

LOW PAY, LOW-DOWN LIFE

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.

THE TEACHERS, who are from a county in Hengyang in Hunan province, in an open letter. They said they had not been paid their salaries and social welfare benefits.

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

"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," the Post quoted from the letter.

When contacted, a staff member at Hengyang county government claimed no knowledge of the protest and asked the Radio Free Asia reporter to call other departments.

A deputy governor of Hengyang county was quoted by Chinese media 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 (S$314 million) this year to pay teachers and other public employees, reported the Post.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'Unpaid teachers in Hunan scuffle with riot police'. Print Edition | Subscribe