Teachers on Strike in Lanzhou, Gansu Province

On 12 and 13 November, all thirteen teachers from the Wujiayuan community-run School, previously attached to the Lanzhou No. 1 Wool Spinning Factory in the Qilihe District of Lanzhou, went on strike. Their demands included the payment of several months of missing wages and for the provision of the same benefits that public school teachers have, such as medical insurance and pensions.

Following the Wujiayuan strike, 152 teachers from another local community school, owned by the bankrupt A’gan Town Coalmine, held a five-day strike starting on 13 November. The teachers were demanding the payment of some four months’ wage arrears and protesting against the recent cancellation of a 160-Yuan per month wage increase that the teachers had been awarded in 1999.

In interviews with CLB, teachers stated that during their negotiations with the local government, officials had openly threatened to take retaliatory measures against them after the strike was concluded. Despite this intimidation, the teachers said that they were maintaining a strong sense of solidarity, and that they had formed a 12-person petitioning delegation to put their complaints before higher-level authorities. Meanwhile, their fellow teachers were taking steps to ensure that classes would not be further disrupted.

The personnel office of the Qilihe District education bureau explained to CLB that after the bankruptcy of several local enterprises, management of the latter’s schools had been transferred to the District education bureau. To continue working, the community teachers were asked to sign a re-employment contract that expressly ruled out any changes to their wage rates for a period of three years. This was despite the fact that they received some 300-400 Yuan less than public schoolteachers, alongside whom they now worked, and they are questioning the legality of this discriminatory treatment.

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