Reports from China say that hundreds of former teachers were detained by police in the capital Beijing. The teachers were protesting peacefully to be granted full employment rights. Like many teachers in China (and around the world) they had worked for many years on temporary contracts and as a result had suffered from low pay and a lack of sick pay or pension rights. 

The teachers had traveled to Beijing to petition the government, after having been turned back by the provincial governments where they lived. They were met by large numbers of security forces who put them onto busses and took them to a detention centre. They were accused of 'disturbing public order.' Other teachers had been prevented from joining the protest.

One of the teachers told reporters: 'We're not in Beijing to disturb public order; what's that supposed to mean? How can this be 'illegal petitioning'?" Teachers on temporary contracts in China often earn beneath the minimum wage - around $200 a month - a salary which makes it virtually impossible to bring up a family.

Despite its purportedly communist government, China pursues many of the same policies as are found globally as a result of corporate education 'reform' - privatisation, performance related pay, cutbacks and temporary contracts. And in defiance of the repression meted out to those fighting back against independent trade union action, teachers have been in the forefront of struggles against attacks on labour rights, living standards and public services.