Hong Kong: Teachers protest following stress-related suicides

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong calling for a reduction in teachers' working hours following two suicides within the profession.

EI affiliate the Professional Teachers Union (PTU) who organised the protest, estimated the turnout at 10,000 people. As well as calling for a cut in working hours at schools, the protesters also want the government to slow down its reforms of the education system. The protest follows the suicide of a 42-year-old teacher and a 54-year-old teacher who both jumped to their deaths from their high-rise apartments within days of each other earlier this month. The families of the two teachers blamed the suicides on the pressure at work as the education reforms are implemented to streamline and cut costs in the city's schools. The PTU claims teachers are working up to 70 hours a week since the reforms came into effect. Education secretary, Fanny Law, caused anguish by her comments to reporters following a legislative council meeting on 16 th January: "If their death is related to the education reforms, then why did only two teachers [commit suicide]?". Law later apologised for any distress caused by her statement. The PTU says teachers will march again if Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang did nothing to ease their burden.