Taxi drivers strike in central China

  • Posted on: 8 November 2008
  • By: pirate Nov. 6, 2008

Thousands of taxi drivers took to the streets in the city of Chongqing earlier this week for improved conditions.

The strike, which began on Monday, saw 9,000 of Chongqing's taxis taken out of service as drivers protested over conditions; including high fees charged by their companies, unfair
competition from unlicensed cabs, and a shortage of fuel.

A number of drivers were arrested, and more than 100 vehicles were wrecked, including three police cars. Many of the destroyed vehicles were taxis belonging to drivers who had not joined the strike. Most of the striking drivers are believed to have returned to work on Wednesday
after the government agreed to reduce fees to drivers by up to 70 yuan.

In an extremely rare occurrence, drivers' representatives were met
by Bo Xilai, a member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo and
also the party chief of Chongqing. The meeting indicates the level to
which the Chinese state is concerned by the prospect of increasing
civil disturbances.

Earlier this year thousands of residents in the city of Weng'an,
Guizhou province, attacked police and government buildings over
corruption and official abuses. According to official figures, tens of
thousands of disturbances and protests take place annually, and these
are expected to increase as the economic situation in China continues
to deteriorate.

In an article published over the weekend, the Minister of Public
Security warned that police must take steps to avoid inflaming
disturbances, and acknowledged a growing number of "mass incidents" in
recent months. The minister wrote, in the party journal Seeking Truth,
that, "In handling mass incidents, we must be clear that the chief
tasks of the public security authorities are to maintain order on the
scene, ease conflicts, avoid excessive steps and prevent the situation
getting out of control."

At a conservative estimate, at least 2.7 million Chinese workers are
set to lose their jobs as a result of the economic crisis. Some 9,000
factories in the southern industrial cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan, and
Shenzhen alone are expected to close before January.