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Hundreds of Truck drivers go on strike at China’s Shanghai ports protesting rising costs

Posted by Author on April 21, 2011

SHANGHAI — A strike by truck drivers at Shanghai container ports continued for a second day Thursday, as they called for higher freight rates to offset rising fuel costs, firms and Chinese media said.

Hundreds of drivers, who gathered at several ports in the city on Wednesday morning, were mostly dispersed by police later that day, the Century Weekly magazine said on its website.

However, the story — which made no mention of any violence — was quickly removed and state media did not report further on the incident.
An official at a Shanghai logistics company, who asked not to be identified, told AFP the drivers were continuing to strike on Thursday and that the protest was likely to continue Friday.

China’s government is intensely concerned about the potential for public unrest stirred by anger over rising prices, particularly after inflation has been a factor in the popular uprisings that have rocked the Arab world.

The consumer price index rose 5.4 percent year-on-year in March — the fastest pace since July 2008 and well above the government’s 2011 target of four percent.

The Shanghai office of Ocean World Lines said the strike had disrupted cargo deliveries.

“Entrances to container yards have been blocked, causing delays of pick-up and receipt of containers in the Shanghai area,” the New York state-based transport company said in a brief statement.

Shanghai public security officials were not available for comment and the municipal government press office declined to answer questions about the incident when contacted by AFP Thursday.

Despite the domestic news blackout, photos of the strike were posted online showing protesters being dragged away by police, while rumours of violence swirled.

Geoff Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin said information about the incident was limited and questioned the reliability of many Internet posts.

The truck drivers, who were mostly private operators, said their incomes had been squeezed by four increases in the government-set price of diesel since October, the Century Weekly report said. Most earned 4,000 yuan ($615) a month before.

“We cannot make any money anymore,” one of the striking drivers, who was not named, was quoted telling the weekly.

In addition to increased fuel costs, drivers were protesting what they said were unreasonably high handling fees charged by the port, ROE Logistics Inc., a Montreal-based customs broker and freight forwarder, said in a notice.

In the latest hike earlier this month, China raised prices for gasoline and diesel fuel by around five percent, citing rising global crude oil prices which were exacerbating inflation concerns in the world’s second biggest economy.

The State Council, or cabinet, last week renewed a government pledge to “do everything possible to maintain price stability” and “strictly control” speculative investment in the real estate market.

– AFP

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