6 Apr 2010

Chinese drivers strike against "overlord contract"

Bus drivers in Southwest China's Yunnan province continued their strike on Monday in protest over a reform imposed by the local transportation company.
Prior to the reform, drivers had ownership of the buses and affiliated themselves with the company. The reform is pushing drivers to sell their vehicles to the company and then take out a contract for operational rights.
The drivers consider the amount they are being offered for the buses to be too low. The arrangement would also require them to pay high management fees as well as to renew their contracts every two years.
Zhao Ziwen, a 44-year-old driver and the owner of two buses, said most of his colleagues are dissatisfied with the amount being offered by the company for their vehicles.
"We don't want to make trouble," Zhao said, "But we have spent more than 100,000 yuan ($14,650) of hard-earned money on a bus. Who can bear the loss of selling it at 30,000 yuan?"
Another reason for the strike is the cost of management fees, totaling 5,000 to 6,000 yuan a month, while drivers' operational rights have not been protected and numerous unlicensed buses illegally siphon off their passengers, Beijing News reported on Monday.
A red banner that was hung across buses parked in the Xiaoshaba maintenance station reads: "Give back (our) hard-earned money! Cancel the unreasonable 'overlord contract' made unilaterally!"
There are some 150 buses in the prefecture and 124 went on strike.
The strike is the latest of its kind, in which drivers have challenged operators who hold the advantage of being the authority that grants licenses. Similar protests by taxi drivers took place last year in Chongqing municipality, and in Hainan, Gansu and Henan provinces.

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