Retired Teachers in Jiangsu Marched against Wage Cut

(Broadcast on December 13, 2002)

In the morning of December 11, about one hundred retired teachers staged a sit-in outside the city government in Pizhou, Jiangsu Province, protesting against the government’s decision to cut local subsidies (Note) in their wages. An official from the Pizhou Education Authority confirmed to me the protest of the retired teachers.

Education Authority [Authority]:

Yes, it is the case; groups of tens of people went there. It’s been resolved. It’s been resolved.

Han Dongfang [Han]:

How was this resolved?

Authority:

Top officials in the city government have received them. They’ve probably talked about this issue.

Han:

What’s the final result then?

Authority:

I am not sure about the details. I didn’t participate in this. I am not sure.

Han:

How many retired teachers are there in Pizhou?

Authority:

There are altogether more than 2,000 retired teachers.

Another official from the Personnel Department of the Pizhou Education Authority said that there are about 20,000 teachers in the city. The implementation of the uniform pay scheme has led to an average of 20% cut in the wages of teachers.

Personnel Department:

In our city there are about 17,000 teaching staff at their posts. In addition to those retired teachers, there are more than 20,000 people. So it is quite a big number.

Han:

If these 20,000 teachers go to demonstration together…

Personnel Department:

(Laugh) Oh… We’ll try to explain to them to prevent the matter from going worse.

Han:

What is the proportion of local subsidies in the wages?

Personnel Department:

About 20 percent.

Han:

So if a teacher’s salary is Rmb 1,000, now he can only get Rmb 800, right?

Personnel Department:

Yup. This is the portion that the state [central government - Ed] is responsible – Rmb 800.

Han:

It means the Rmb 200 subsidies from the local governments have been cut.

Personnel Department:

Right.

Mr Jia, director of the Pizhou City Government General Office, pointed out the wages are lower than the past according to the state’s uniform pay scheme, and that the withholding of the local subsidies was done according to regulation and poses no problem, even if various inspection groups of the government come and look into their work.

City government:

Dozens of teachers came to the government to express their views. Our mayor has met them and explained the situation to them.

Han:

Did they accept the explanation?

City government:

It is not whether they accept it or not, but that they have to understand the situation.

Han:

That means they would not go to march again?

City Government:

Right. They won’t. Even if this is going to be investigated by inspection groups from the State Council or from the provincial government or Xuzhou City, they would approve of our work, since we are following the state’s uniform pay scheme.

Han:

However, as the present salary has been cut, it is still a problem, isn’t it?

City Government:

If you have any enquires on this, you can check up on the document of the Jiangsu Provincial Government.

Han:

Putting aside the document, from the view of teachers, they are receiving less than what they got in the past. Isn’t it a problem?

City Government:

Not only do they get less. All civil servants and teachers in the city receive less than before.

Han:

No matter what, last year it was Rmb 1,000, but this year it’s just Rmb 800. It’s a great difference, and this will greatly affect their livelihood, right?

City Government:

Well, right! According to the original stipulations in Jiangsu, it’s worse than before; but based upon the document of the State Council we are giving enough payments.

Han:

So the stipulation of the State Council is not as good as that of the Jiangsu Province in the past?

City Government:

Well, yes!

A civil servant from the town of Tiefu said that the wages of teachers and civil servants in towns and villages have been cut, and they are not happy with this. He also complained why the wage cut has only been implemented in towns and villages, whereas the civil servants in urban areas remain unaffected.

Civil Servant:

No subsidies for us people at the town office. Possibly teachers don’t have the subsidies too. This is the implementation of state’s uniform pay scheme – the portion of local subsidy has all been cut.

Han:

Even the government officials have lost their allowances?

Civil Servant:

The government officials have also lost theirs.

Han:

Are people unhappy with this?

Civil Servant:

We are; we are. We talked about why our subsidies have been cut. Yet those in the city of Xuzhou can retain theirs; and those allowances in Pizhou urban districts haven’t been cut too. But people in villages and towns like us have lost all the subsidies. All the local areas, cities, towns and villages in Pizhou, have implemented the state’s uniform pay scheme.

Han:

How much do you lose a month?

Civil Servant:

More than Rmb 300. After the cut the lowest that people can get is about Rmb 400, and people like us could get more than Rmb 500.

A civil servant from the government office of Picheng also said that the senior staff members are dissatisfied with the new policy.

Civil Servant:

I heard that a senior staff member from the city said that other senior staff members there are dissatisfied – they are dissatisfied with the financial difficulties of the local government there.

Han:

In your case, how much do you lose a month?

Civil Servant:

Now I can get about Rmb 720; originally. I had more than Rmb 840 – the wage is down by about Rmb 120 to Rmb 130! Now, even the civil servants are not happy with this. But as long as we get our payments, that’s okay (Laugh). Now we do have complaints – definitely! How is it possible that we have no complaints!

But a mathematics teacher at Suyangshan Secondary School in the city said that he is not interested in the pay cut.

Han:

Are you a teacher?

Teacher:

Yes, I am.

Han:

What do you teach?

Teacher:

I teach mathematics.

Han:

Do you get your local subsidy?

Teacher:

No!

Han:

How much did you get each month before the implementation of the state’s uniform pay scheme?

Teacher:

I’m not very sure. I’m not interested in the wage issue.

A lawyer in Pizhou told me that he heard that the teachers are demanding a reply of the city government by the end of this month. Otherwise serving teachers will also go to march.

Lawyer:

I heard that the retired teachers have made a demand, that the government should give them a reply by the end of this month. If the city government doesn’t give them a reply, then even those teachers at their posts will go to the street too.

That lawyer even said that he is willing to represent the teachers to take legal action.

Lawyer:

If they come to me, I will try to give them help.

Han:

If they really come to seek your help, who will be sued in this case?

Lawyer:

It depends on who issued the administrative instruction to cut their wages. If it is the city government, then the city government will be sued!




(Note)

Under the new policy introduced early this year, 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. Locals refer to this 20% payment as ‘subsidies’. The wage issue came out of the fact that the ‘floating wages’ meant ‘wage cut’ since the payment was not made at all. (back)

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