China Labour Bulletin’s 2011 strike map documented five bus strikes and five protests by taxi drivers in October in towns and cities across China. These reported incidents are almost certainly just a small proportion of the actual number of protests.
Around 100 taxi drivers staged a protest in the coastal city of Xiamen on 6 October demanding higher passenger fares. On 12 October, cab drivers in the Guangdong township of Qiaoitou staged a strike in protest at being undercut by unlicensed motorcycle taxis. And the same day, several hundred drivers in the Anhui city of Chaohu staged a protest, complaining that their day-to-day costs now ate up 70 to 80 percent of their income. On 21 October, drivers in Xiangtan, Hunan, protested the government’s failure to properly regulate the taxi market, and on 1 November, more than 500 taxi drivers in the Henan city of Leihe staged a mass protest against unlicensed cabs.
Protests by bus drivers and crew also occurred on five long-distance routes near Wuhan, Xi’an, Lanzhou, Kunming and Chuzhou in Anhui. The disputes were triggered by management proposed changes to the bus routes and income distribution systems.
As CLB’s two most recent research reports on the workers’ movement show, strikes in the transport sector have been a regular occurrence in China over the last five years. Initially it was the relatively well-organized taxi drivers who lead the protests but bus drivers and conductors are now as equally militant, and this year they have been joined by truck drivers and railway workers as well.
Transport workers resort to strike action because there are usually no formal channels through which they can discuss their disagreements with management. Moreover, the highly public and visible nature of the protests often forces the local government to intervene in an attempt to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.