A protest broke out in Yantai city of Shandong province as city authorities wanted to reduce local teachers’ salaries and demanded they pay back part of their income.

A video circulated on Twitter on June 16 shows many teachers standing at a schoolyard in Yantai city. They chanted, “Same pay, same class, no drop, no withdrawal.”

According to the letter sent to students’ parents published after the demonstration, Yantai authorities required school teachers to pay back about 50,000 to 100,000 yuan (7,000 to 15,000 dollars) of the salaries already paid to them. They also reduced teachers’ wages to what they were more than ten years ago.

The teachers wrote to the parents about the authorities’ decision to reduce salaries, “You may have been informed earlier than us, know more than us, and understand more than us, but our recent shock and pain is not something you can feel. We have been deceived.”

The letter wrote that when the teachers asked for the authorized document, local officials responded that they could only inform about the matter verbally. The teachers complained in the letter that their work performance evaluations were not transparently disclosed. Although the city is classified as a development zone, the teachers said they are classified as workers in a municipal area. The city authorities also turned down their request to have a meeting on the matter.

Many teachers face hardship as they lack money to maintain their daily lives. In addition, high housing prices in the development contribute to the problems.

Many fresh graduates came to the city because of the attractive recruitment conditions. However, these young people are suffering hardship in this situation. The group mentioned that the authorities owe some young students two months’ salary. In addition, recent graduates training as college teachers expect their contracts will be terminated. 

Part of the letter reads, “We don’t want to stop teaching for a minute, but all the efforts we have tried have been to no avail. We are not afraid of poverty. We are not afraid of hardship. We really cannot stand to be in a situation where we will always be bullied and being profited from.” The teachers have to protest to express their anger and helplessness.

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