Truck drivers strike over fuel prices and fees
About 1,000 container truck drivers went on strike in Shanghai yesterday, complaining about soaring fuel prices and increased fees charged by port and storage depot operators.
At least two drivers were taken away by police, one witness said.
The protest started early yesterday morning outside a China International Marine Containers Group office in the city's Baoshan district.
One driver said he learned of the protest several days ago through text messages and a website popular with truck drivers. He said that when two people tried to unfold a banner reading, 'Cancel various additional fees', they were stopped by plain-clothes police and the banner was torn down. That triggered a scuffle, with some drivers throwing water bottles at police.
'We were not satisfied. We were not protesting against the Communist Party, so why did police detain them?' the driver said.
A rubbish collector working nearby said he saw hundreds of protesters and at least one person was arrested.
The driver said at least 30 policemen holding shields were at the office's gate, 'so ... we couldn't go out and no one was allowed to come to join, either'.
The drivers dispersed at noon when some unidentified people came and offered to negotiate with their representatives, the driver said.
He said three fuel price rises since December had put the squeeze on drivers' incomes.
'The combined price hike has reached one yuan per litre. That means for every 300 kilometres of driving, we will have to pay at least 100 yuan extra,' he said.
Drivers also complained about soaring fees charged by the port and storage depot operators, including container adjustment fees and night service fees.
'These additional fees, some of which didn't exist two years ago, keep on increasing,' the driver said. 'But the hauling fees paid to us by the freight forwarders have remained the same.'
An official from the Shanghai Communist Party Committee's publicity department declined to comment last night. The phones of the municipal public security department and its Baoshan branch rang unanswered yesterday.
Additional reporting by Raymond Li