Shanghai and Hangzhou protests highlight growing frustration of taxi drivers across China

The at times violent strike by thousands of taxi drivers in Hangzhou and a smaller protest by drivers at one company in Shanghai on 1 August are the latest in series of strikes and go-slows by cabdrivers in China this year, angry at rising fuel prices, the charges and restrictions imposed by the cab companies, and the lack of effective government regulation.

Most recently, on 27 June, several hundred drivers in the central city of Zhengzhou went on strike for the second time this year after cab companies blocked drivers who intended to quit the business from transferring their licence, saying all licences had to be returned to the company. Drivers in Zhengzhou had staged an earlier strike in January to protest the municipal government’s decision to abolish the long-established system of six work days, one rest day (“运六歇一”制度). This meant that the city’s 10,607 licensed cabs had to work seven days a week in order to satisfy the government’s demands for more cabs on the street.

Also in June, more than 100 drivers in the Shandong city of Zhangqiu staged a two week strike over cab company plans to change their contracts, while drivers in the Shaanxi town of Xingping protested fee policies instituted by both the cab companies and local government. On 10 May, several hundred cab drivers in Hainan’s Qionghai went on strike complaining that the daily charge of 200 yuan that they had to pay the cab companies left them with virtually no income.

In April, 150 drivers from a cab company in Foshan struck in protest at the company’s strict management and refusal to return the proportion of the security deposit owed to them. While around 100 drivers from five cab companies in the south-western city of Mengzi in Yunnan staged a slow drive to demand that the government raise flag fall from four yuan to five yuan. And they were joined by drivers from the neighbouring city of Gejiu who were protesting at the high cost of fuel.

And back in March, several hundred drivers in Lanzhou staged a protest against the failure of the district government to crack down on the unlicensed cabs that were “stealing customers.”

Taxi drivers are far from the only transport sector workers affected by fuel costs and oppressive regulations. Apart from the highly publicised truck drivers’ strike in Shanghai in April, there have been at least five strikes by bus drivers and crews in various cities across China in the last few months, including most recently:

  • Chashan township, Dongguan, on 2 August 2011. At least 26 bus crews stage strike over 16 hour shifts and non-payment of overtime.
  • Huaining county in Anhui on 4 June 2011. Bus crews strike over the company’s failure to pay wages for two months.
  • Luohe in Henan on 3 June 2011. Conductors on several city bus routes staged strikes.
  • Yuyang in Anhui on 20 May 2011. Dozens of bus operators strike over the failure of the company to implement local government directives on improving management.
  • Ankang in Shaanxi on 18 May 2011. Bus operators on two routes strike over company’s failure to pay fuel subsidies while daily running costs escalate.
  • Ganyu in Jiangsu on 25 February 2011. Some 16 bus crews staged a one day strike.

For more details, see CLB’s strike map for 2011 on our Chinese website - 2011年中国工人群体事件地图.
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