Didi drivers in China protest pay cuts and restrictive work practices

China’s Didi drivers are out on strike again; protesting higher costs and reduced incomes.

Didi Chuxing has dominated China’s ride-hailing taxi market since ousting Uber in 2016 but it is now facing increased competition from new domestic rivals who are offering substantial discounts. Didi has reportedly responded by cutting payments to drivers and forcing them to work longer hours.

This is just the latest example of China’s transport workers, who are increasingly dependent on online platforms for work, being squeezed by their service provider at a time when fuel and other costs are escalating.

Truck drivers, van drivers, food delivery workers and now Didi drivers have all staged strikes and protests over the last few months. Indeed, transport workers accounted for more than 20 percent of all the strikes and protests recorded on CLB’s Strike Map during June.

Two of the protests by Didi drivers are discussed in more detail below.

Didi drivers’ in Hunan post long list of grievances

Hundreds of Didi drivers in the central city of Shaodong, Hunan, went on strike on 4 June in protest at a policy change that made it more difficult for them to claim their bonus payments. Videos posted online showed a long line of cars with drivers staging a protest on the side of the road.

The drivers said that losing their bonus at time when fuel prices were going up would impose a heavy financial burden on them. They posted a list of ten demands and grievances online including claims that: Didi had been withholding the compensation paid to drivers when their orders were cancelled, drivers were forced to accept orders starting more than 1.5 kilometres away, and that the company charged unreasonably high commissions.

Drivers stayed on strike for six days, which coincided with the National College Entrance Examination. Drivers posted statements asking for support and understanding and apologizing for any inconvenience caused.

Didi drivers in Hangzhou demand talks with company

Nearly one hundred Didi drivers gathered in front of the company office in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, on 8 June protesting its new “guarantee scheme.” The scheme, rolled out in April, claimed to provide drivers with a stable income but required them to work at least ten hours a day.

Didi then gradually reduced the orders for those drivers who refused to join the new scheme, sparking anger among drivers who wanted to maintain a more flexible work schedule. One driver said his income had fallen by 5,000 yuan as a result of the new system. After expenses, he said, he was left with just a few thousand yuan a month. Even drivers with a high customer rating found that they could not get orders without joining the new scheme.

When company representatives did not respond to their complaints, a group of drivers elected their own representatives and marched into the company office to demand negotiations. The company finally gave in and held talks with the drivers.

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