Zhouzhi, Shaanxi Taxi Drivers Strike

10:12 Nov 24 2008 Zhouzhi Shaanxi China

From Reuters:

More than 100 taxi drivers in a county in northwest China have gone on strike, demanding local authorities crack down on unlicensed cabs, the same day as hundreds of cabbies clashed with police in southern China.

A wave of taxi strikes has broken out across China in recent weeks against unlicensed competition, high fuel prices and rising rental fees, which have threatened drivers' livelihoods as the economy comes under strain from global financial turmoil.

Cab drivers in Zhouxi, a county near Shaanxi provincial capital Xian, crowded the main square of the county seat on Monday, complaining that three-wheeled vehicles were stealing their business, a report posted on Xinhua news agency's website ( said on Tuesday.

"Due to the chaotic state of the taxi market, taxis are unable to conduct normal business, incomes are very low and cannot guarantee the most basic standard of living," the report quoted a copy of a petition carried by drivers.

Local authorities had hastily called meetings with local cab companies and police to order a crackdown on unlicensed cabs, the report said.

China frowns on industrial action of any kind and bans independent trade unions, depriving workers of a key channel for resolving disputes.

But taxi drivers appear to have been emboldened after a strike earlier this month in China's fourth largest city of Chongqing won promises from local authorities to tweak fare income allocations in cab drivers' favour.

Strikes have since been recorded in at least six other cities.

The Zhouzhi county strike coincided with clashes between hundreds of cab drivers and police on Monday in the southern city of Guangzhou, triggered by the alleged beating of driver by a man who claimed he was a government official.

China has also been hit by a string of protests by laid-off workers and rioting involving thousands of people in one northwestern city in recent weeks.

China's domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang on Monday urged local governments to provide citizens with proper outlets to air grievances to avoid violent unrest as export-driven growth slows amid the global financial crisis.
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