Saturday, April 23, 2011
Rising Fuel Prices, Fees Push Shanghai Truck Drivers to Strike
Shanghaiist: Massive strike by truck drivers at Shanghai ports yesterday, mainstream media silent again
South China Morning Post: Shanghai truckers strike for third day
Reuters: Q&A – What is behind the Shanghai truckers strike?
This week truck drivers at several ports in the Shanghai area went on strike to protest fuel prices and port fees that have cut into their wages. The strikes have so far lasted four days, but all ports continue to operate. The strikes have not yet caused a major roadblock to exports, but area logistics providers have said that container ships are leaving the port without some shipments.
The strikes began on April 20th when truck drivers blocked a dockyard and encouraged other drivers to demonstrate. Several workers smashed windows of trucks that did not stop and join the demonstration. At that point the Shanghai government sent in police to contain the demonstration and arrest those blocking the flow of container shipments. Since then the Shanghai government has been negotiating a settlement with the truck drivers. Xinhua reported that the Shanghai government has cut some fees like warehousing fees that logistics companies have passed on to truck drivers in the form of lower wages.
So far the strikes have not spread beyond ports in the Shanghai area. If the strikes spread to other key ports like Tianjin and Guangzhou, international shipments could be severely delayed and China’s reputation as a hassle-free exporter could be damaged. The Chinese press, even relatively independent financial magazines like Caixin and Caijing, has reported very little on the truck strike except to note that the government is negotiating with the truck drivers.
China’s inflation rates reached a three-year high last month and is one of many Asian countries battling inflation. Fuel price protests have been relatively common in recent weeks in areas as diverse as the Philippines, Kenya, and India. Chinese officials have recently noted that inflation poses some of the greatest risks to social stability.