Government misappropriates wages and benefits from school teachers in rural Sichuan
Rural Chinese school teachers’ salaries are notoriously low. But add to that the government misappropriation of legally mandated pay rises and benefits and their situation is even more appalling. In Renshou county in Sichuan province, retired teachers Liu Yonghui and Li Jinjuan are two activists who are challenging county, city and provincial governments to uphold the rights laid down in the 1993 Teachers’ Law. The Teachers’ Law mandates that teachers should be awarded the same benefits as other civil servants, including benefits and cash allowances to supplement their meager income. But since 1993, Renshou county teachers have not seen a cent of their allocated cash allowances. Futhermore, wage increases over that period have been counter-balanced by illegal deductions. Subsidies promised by the county-level government have never been paid. All in all activists Liu and Li estimate that the teachers of Renshou have each been cheated out of a massive 60,000 RMB since 1993. Given that this money was included in state and provincial level budgets, this means misappropriation of state funds.
Liu and Li and have gotten nowhere in their petitions to government. They have found no support from the trade union either. The trade union chair at their school is also the assistant-principal, who ‘does not want to lose his position’. ‘No matter what the Trade Union Law says, what union is going to fight for us?’ says Liu. They have never hired a lawyer, because they did not have the money. Almost no teachers in Renshou have taken action, because they worry about the ramifications of standing up for their rights. The few teachers who have spoken out have been warned in an open statement from the Director of the local Educational Department that, if they take their complaint to higher-levels of government, their children will be fired from teaching jobs. This situation is still unresolved.
Source: China Labour Bulletin, 9 January 2008