06/15/2018, 15.03
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Strike by lorry drivers paralyses Shandong and Shanxi

Since 9 June thousands of drivers have been on strike for better conditions. They complain of high fuel prices and unfairness by the Manbang Group. For experts, without an improvement the strike could continue.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) –  The strike by thousands of lorry drivers is likely to paralyse the provinces of Shandong and Shaanxi. The action began on 9 June and is still ongoing.

Drivers complain about rising diesel prices, up to 7 yuan (US$ 1.09) per litre; unfair practices by the Manbang Group; and too many hours of work. There are an estimated 20 to 30 million lorry drivers in China.

Footage and photos posted online show drivers honking horns, driving slowly, chanting slogans and holding up banners. The protests were even able to break through the heavy censorship of China’s media.

The target of drivers’ anger is lorry logistics platform owned by the Manbang Group. The Uber like platform was formed from the merger of Yun Man Man with rival Huo Che Bang, creating what drivers claim is a monopoly.

“We are struggling just to survive,” said one driver based in Yantai, Shandong province. “We did not plan the strikes, there is no leadership or organisation.”

Still, “In the next few months, I would expect to see more strikes like this especially if fuel prices continue to rise and there is no meaningful or concrete response from the government,” said China Labour Bulletin spokesman Geoff Crothall.

Earlier this week, Chinese authorities appeared to have responded to the protests by opening a handful of “drivers’ homes” in ten provinces, offering the truckers rest stops, Wi-fi and maintenance services.

However, for Crothall “the fundamental concern for them (drivers) is not to have a good meal or shower on the road but rather a decent haulage rate for the job they do”.

In April, the Social Sciences Academic Press released a study that found that in 2016 Chinese lorry drivers worked more than 12 hours a day for an average monthly income of about 8,000 yuan (US$ 1,200).

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