Chinese Truck Drivers Strike for a Better Working and Living Environment

Chinese Truck Drivers Strike

A large Chinese Truck Drivers Strike was going on during the weekend of June 16th, 2018 in China. Truck drivers got together and protested about the official monopoly, excessive fines and tolls, high fuel costs and unstable policies. They required a better living and working.

However, the strike was happening during the Summit held in Qingdao. The official Chinese media tried every possibility to cover up the news, while they spent thousands of words reporting the Summit and how President Xi meeting with the heads of other countries.

Now we could only find some brief and fragment news on the internet. That news was not always reliable, and rumors were blended it. After reviewing as much information as we could find on the internet, let’s reduce the cause, timeline, and events during the strike.

Cause of the Chinese Truck Drivers Strike

Striking truck drivers with their demands

Striking truck drivers with their demands

Being a truck driver in China wasn’t easy. Truck drivers usually work very long hours to deliver freights on time. Fatigue driving is very common. Some drivers even eat and sleep on the truck to save time. In dealing with all those, truck drivers in China were mostly self-employed. They need to pay ridiculous high tolls, gas, and even fines. Considering the high cost of each transit, lots of truck drivers chose to overload their trucks to increase the profits. Unfortunately, it led to higher chance to be caught by polices and even higher fines. Under such circumstance, the Chinese truck drivers were involved in a vicious circle. The situation has already escalated for years.

Some drivers posted the “Ten Sins” of the Chinese government regarding freight trucks management on Wechat Moment. They requested answers from the government of the ten questions.

  • The policy change leads to the value decline of the truck operation licenses.
  • The standards for overloading of transportation management and law enforcement weren’t the same.
  • Some types of trucks were not required of obtaining over-limit shipping certificate. However, the trucks which didn’t have the certificate would be fined in some areas.
  • The law enforcement officers refused to show their badges to the truck drivers during the inspection. The drivers doubt that if they have the power to issue fine tickets.
  • The action of demanding bribe existed during law enforcement.
  • Some trucks were fined for the same reason by two different apartments—the police officers and the road management.
  • The polices fined drivers for fines, not for managing the traffic rules.
  • Police officers refused to provide receipts of the fine.
  • Truck inspection wasn’t reasonable and not under regulation.
  • The tolls increased every time when the highways need to be fixed. The government shouldn’t ask the truck drivers to pay for the bill.

The drivers required for acceptable explanations for all the irreasonable fines and charges. Some truck drivers also published a letter of appeal. They claimed that they “can’t stand for it anymore” and this strike would be a “road with no return”. A driver named “Old Tan” said, “there used to be only one purpose for us to leave our hometown—to make a living out of it. That’s why we must unite, and let the whole society be aware of our existence. Share it to your moment and let the authorities hear our voices!”
Also, they emphasized the importance of acting unified. “Those who take actions by themselves, their trucks will be crushed.” They even set up the “iron rule” for the strike.

Timeline of the Strike

Truck drivers striking in Luoyang

Truck drivers striking in Luoyang

At the end of this April, the tower crane operators in China started a strike, called “May 1st Great Strike”. Lots of tower crane operators from more than 40 cities in more than 20 provinces made banners and shouted slogans to show their attitudes. They demanded salary raises. Some of the operators were taken away by the authorities.

About a month later, the truck drivers planned to strike in Xiushui, Jiangxi province on June 10th. It was soon responded by the truck drivers in Shandong Province. Earlier than the plan, on June 8th, the strike started in Jiangxi and Shandong Province; and soon it was spread to Provinces Anhui, Hubei, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Jiangxi, Guizhou, and Chongqing.

On June 8th, many trucks started to gather on the highway, freeway and parking lots.
According to the videos some drivers shared online, the drivers were either occupying the parking lots, or they drove slowly on the road, honking and putting banners of slogans on the body of the trucks.

The person who took the video mentioned that they “crushed almost 20 trucks during the strike” and even “beat up the drivers who were cooperative”.

In Yanhu City, Anhui Province, the trucks occupied a bridge and blocked the traffic.

It was reported that to coordinate the actions, truck drivers from all parts of the country formed a coalition that requires all truck drivers not to load or unload cargo in order to create conditions for the fight for overall rights and interests.

From June 9th to 10th, The Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization of 2018 was held in Qingdao, Shandong. The strike happened simultaneously drew lots of attention from the public opinions. Some netizens tried to share information about the strike on the internet, but soon got deleted.

The Shandong government set up check stations on different routes entering or exiting Shandong Province during the summit. They tried to stop the strike from spreading to other provinces.

Based on the information on Internet, some Didi drivers also took part in the strike.

Truck Driver (Cargo Delivery) is not a Blessed Job in China

According to official statistics, China currently has 15 million freight trucks, if at least two drivers are needed per vehicle, there will be at least 30 million truck drivers across the country.

Truck driving is a very hard work in China

Truck driving is a very hard work in China

Mr. Long from Shanxi province was also a truck driver. He told one of the overseas Chinese media, “The living environment for us is brutal. We used to make a living by delivering cargos, but now we can barely make anything through it. The fuel was expensive, and the tolls were too high. You need to run outside almost every day for this job. It was tiring and not even make good money. In China, if you don’t overload your truck, you won’t make a profit; but if you overload your truck, you will receive a ridiculous fine from the cops.” “It was like the unspoken rules of China. They forced the truck drivers to overload their cargos, and fine them for it. So, everyone gets a cup of soup from this industry.”

Ordinary Chinese people were also harmed by this irrational system. Some Chinese netizens complained, “Mangos and pineapples are just sold for a few cents per kilogram. But nobody wants to buy—they said the transition fee was too high. While in a grocery store in Shanghai, you pay 20 Yuan for a pineapple.” With such a dramatic price difference, people certainly thought that the truck drivers made all that money. That used to be part of reasons that people spent money to enter this industry—not even until later they found out that under this system, truck drivers can barely make enough for a living.

Many people asked angrily, “who took away all that money?”

Ms. Zhang from Guangdong Province told the media that the Chinese truck drivers are also facing the problem of cargo supplies being monopolized. Some logistic firms with a “government-related background” will monopoly the cargo supplies and bargain hard on the price. With the fuel prices going so high nowadays, all those reasons made it very difficult for the self-employed truck drivers.

“Anti-Manbang”

In a video taken by one truck driver from Henan Province, banners “Anti-Manbang” was put on the truck.

What’s Manbang?

Manbang is considered the biggest intercity vehicle operation, vehicle and cargo matching information platform logistic firm in China.
March 26, 2018, Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp was looking to invest $1 billion in Manbang. It was looking to raise between $500 million and $1 billion in fresh funds to help it expand in China’s growing logistics market. It was reported that Manbang was going to explore the fields of new energy and self-driving vehicles. It would also keep constructing the logistics infrastructures.

Besides the service of vehicle-cargo matching, Manbang also became the biggest service platform for truck and driver logistics. It also allowed people to send and receive payments through the platform.

Lots of people believed that the government purposely support Manbang App, so it provided them with a way to monitor the conversations between bus drivers and their plans. When a company became the tool for the government using against their people, it wasn’t surprising that the people would want to fight against the company too.

The independent scholar Ji Feng from Guizhou told that the purpose of founding a logistics firm for trucks and cargo was like taxi companies. The authorities want to manage all the certain type of commercial vehicles in an easier way, and they could also make a profit from charging management fee from the drivers. If the drivers had a second thought over the system, the authorities can also send out the logistics firms to put pressures on them.

Effects of the Strike

A truck drivers eating in the truck

A truck drivers eating in the truck

Some people believed that the “608 Truck Driver Strike” choosing the days when the Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization of 2018 was going on, was to protest against the “luxury diplomacy” of the Chinese government, while many ordinary people were still struggling on feeding their families. “It is just so unfair.”

Independent commenter Zhang Lifan worried about people’s daily life, “Because of the strike, some big cities with the large population such as Beijing will suffer from lack of supplies. For example, most of the groceries you could buy in Beijing were from Shandong Province. If the government can’t offer a fair solution for the truck drivers, it may cause Domino effect, and it will bring big problems to many industries.” Some netizens thought this would be an indicator for another round of pricing raising.

Not long ago, there was a truck driver strike going on in Brazil also. The truck drivers across the nation in Brazil got together, protesting the high price of diesel oil from May 21st. Until the 23rd of the month, strike brought severe damage to people’s daily life and the normal functions of other industries. It was reported that more than half of the meat production companies were closed. The shelves were empty in the supermarkets and no one was delivering packages. Even the airport was affected because of the fuel shortage.
It looked like Zhang Lifan’s worries were very reasonable.

Some netizens disapproved some picket actions of the strikers, such as punishing the truck drivers who chose to keep working and crushing their vehicles. An anonymous netizen said on the internet, “It’s anti-human rights to punish someone for his/her own choices by damaging their properties at anytime, anywhere. The truck drivers have their rights not taking part in the strike.” In some of the videos taken during the strick, we can clearly hear that some truck driver said that they “had already crushed dozens of trucks”, and even “beat up those drivers who didn’t take part in the strike”. “We need fights that everyone unites under one goal. We don’t need criminals that taking away people’s properties for no reason. If we chose to use violence over people to frighten them, so they could follow us. It was definitely against the democratic choice.”

The public believed that after the strike of truck drivers, more and more workers from other industries, especially those who were forced shut down by the government because of overcapacity, would be encouraged to strike. Many people who worked for iron producing, coal energy and electronic energy lost their jobs. Very soon, the age of strike will come to China.

Summary
Article Name
Chinese Truck Drivers Strike
Description
Chinese Truck Drivers Strike was going on during the weekend in China. Truck drivers protested about the official monopoly, excessive fines, and tolls etc.
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