So far, there have been 8 protests involving education workers in the country in August, more than the monthly average compiled by the China Labor Bulletin since January 2019. In late July, a few days after the announcement of a major policy change, two more incidents occurred.
One protest in Shanghai involved a company that helps students prepare for study abroad, whose management fled without paying its employees. Similar episodes were seen in cities such as Beijing, Changsha, and Nanjing. The crackdown has exacerbated the financial troubles many schools face due to the pandemic, said Aidan Chau, a researcher at the Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin.
“In the past, companies still hoped they could get on with their normal business, but after July, some school managers just decided to shut down and run away,” he said. “We expect there will be more cases where this kind of real policy actually materializes.”
China has announced a major overhaul of its education sector, banning companies that teach the school curriculum from making profits, raising capital, and imposing restrictions on listing. The move came when young people complained about excessive demands on tutoring, and parents worried about high costs and that their children would be lagging behind if they did not attend extra classes.
Chau said that so far, smaller firms have been involved in protests because the larger ones had better policies and paid employees amounts that met or sometimes exceeded legal requirements.
He called on the official All China Federation of Trade Unions to help educators get paid and other issues.6 “If the official union does nothing, then when the workers decide to act on their own, the Communist Party or the union will have no excuse.”