Taxi drivers from around the country have been in strike for a month. The first protest appeared in Chongqin in November 3, then it spread to Hainan, Gansu, Yunnan, Shandong, Qingdao, Jinan, Fujian, Shantou, Wubei, Shaanxi and etc.
Tomorrow (1 of December), it is likely that Guangzhou will have another Taxi driver strike, and a campaign letter has been circulating around. Beifeng scanned the letter and put it up on his blog; chong posted a backup copy at inmediahk.net:
Letter calling for strike
To all taxi driver friends in Guangzhou city:
Affected by the global financial crisis, the taxi industry in Guangzhou is going through a survival crisis. Recently taxi drivers have been suffering because of the vicious competition from private cabs from other provinces. However, the Guangzhou city government and the Transportation committee fail to control the situation and improve our business environment. The contract fee from taxi company is too high, our burden is too heavy. We are oppressed by many regulation, any violation would lead to suspension of our driving license. All these together have make our Taxi driver friends suffocated. Therefore, now we advocate Taxi driver friends to visit the Guangzhou city transportation committee at Guangyuen Road and Guangzhou city government at Dongfeng Road on 1 of December at 8:30am. We will put forward our demand to the government and committee and expect a satisfactory response. Wish all of our Taxi driver friends will participate for the sake of Taxi business and for the sake of our own interest.
If you decide not to join the action, I wish you not to drive the cab on that day because some of the drivers may have radical action and may cause you damage.
27 of Nov, 2008
(For those who have received this pamphlet, please tell your Taxi driver friends. Please donate a few dollars for photocopying and distribute it around. Thank you!)
Timeline for the nationwide Taxi driver strikes
Early in Nov 23, there was a confrontation between a Taxi and a private vehicle in Guangzhou, which leaded to a temporary blocking of a major express road by more than a hundred Taxis. This episode was connected to the nation-wide taxi drivers strike. Xin Lijian draws a simple timeline of the strikes in November:
Nov 8 – Wubei Jinzhou: a few hundred Taxi strike because of the long line in refilling gas
Nov 10 – Sanya taxi driver strike against the high rent
Nov 10 – Gansu Yongdeng: more than a hundred taxi driver strike
Nov 19 – Chongqing Yongchuan Taxi strike
Nov 20 – Guangdong Shantou Taxi strike
Nov 24 – Shaanxi Zhouzhi province more than 100 taxi strike
Taxi driver union needed
The blogger also points out that the fundamental problem is due to the middle rank exploitation by the Taxi company:
In order to deal with the problem the All China Federation of Trade Unions suggested Taxi drivers to organize union to negotiate with Taxi company. However lakeside guest house points out that an effective union should be directly elected by Taxi drivers, or else the conflicts cannot be solved:
Collective negotiation is of course a form of democratic practice, however, Beifeng quotes from a Singapore newspapers which pointed out that the Taxi driver strike as a form of street democracy should also be recognized:
Even my father, an illiterate Chinese peasant, told me that the biggest problem in China is that there is no democracy.