BEIJING - Hundreds of teachers from private high schools in a western Chinese city called a strike this week to protest about low salaries, despite government efforts to tame a wave of teacher protests, regional media said on Friday.
Teachers across China have joined a surge of protests over the last year, besieging local governments to demand better treatment and denounce official corruption.
The introduction of performance pay earlier this year seemed to appease teachers in public schools but fuelled discontent in private schools, where there were no increases.
The teachers who came out on strike on Thursday were from two schools which belong to a private education group in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. They stopped work after their pay demands were rejected, local web portal Newssc.org reported.
An official in Chengdu Municipal Education Bureau downplayed the incident, and said the government was in talks with the teachers and their employers in a bid to end the walkout.
"It's not as serious as a strike," Liu Ke, from the spokesman's office, told Reuters by telephone.
"It's only a labour dispute between teachers and the group ... We hope the situation will return to normal before Monday's mid-term examination at the schools," he said.
The number of "mass incidents" - the government term for riots and protests - increased recently after a relatively quiet period around the Oct 1 National Day celebrations, when Beijing tightened controls, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy said.
About 2,000 people protested in the city of Cixi, in the eastern province of Zhejiang on Wednesday, after several residents were beaten up by security officials, the group said.