Striking staff at one of Beijing’s oldest international schools have been promised they will be paid tomorrow, Friday, September 28.
The faculty at Beijing BISS International School (BISS), founded in 1994, have been on strike since September 20 and explained to parents in a letter that this was due to unpaid wages, insurance, and housing allowances. The school is sister school to the International School of Singapore (ISS), and now the owners of ISS have announced that all outstanding wages will be paid. They have also promised that if the school has to close, they will find new places for all students. (There is no information to suggest that ISS itself is in any difficulty.)
BISS has been in financial trouble for some time, and last year, bus drivers staged a protest at the school gate. Negative comments about the school have been left unchallenged on its Wikipedia and Facebook pages. Beijingkids have been told that BISS has lost its accreditation with the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the school is not listed on either organization’s website at the time of writing. BISS’s own website appears to be down.
The school’s owners blame falling rolls for the problem, due to the decreasing number of expats in Beijing. The international community in the city has been shrinking since 2010, due to the aftermath of the Global Financial Crash, tighter government regulations, and negative perceptions of the city’s pollution and overcrowding. Despite some of the highest fees in the world, Beijing’s international schools face financial challenges ahead.
The leadership at BISS were invited to contribute to this piece but have not responded at the time of publication.
Correction: We understand that the offer to pay unpaid wages only relates to pay for this school year.
Featured photo shows Beijing BISS International School facade, via Facebook