“Keeping Beijing’s taxis on the streets”

Taxi strikes are one of the most visible forms of strikes in China, and there have been a bunch of them in recent years taking place in major Chinese cities. FT reports on how a taxi strike in Beijing was brought to a rapid resolution by national authorities:

The taxi drivers’ litany of complaints is long: petrol prices in China are at record highs, eroding profits. Drivers usually work 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, and often commute an hour or two each way to pick up their cab. Meanwhile taxi fares have barely changed to keep pace with China’s steady inflation.

This weekend, Beijing’s taxi drivers decided they had had enough. On Sunday afternoon, several taxi drivers told the FT they had received text messages about a strike on Monday and Tuesday and were considering participating.

However on Monday morning Beijing’s streets were full of taxis, and Tuesday was business as usual too. So what happened?

Prominently displayed in the paper was an article about a high-level government meeting in which three government departments met to discuss taxi drivers’ employment and benefits.

According to the article, the officials promised sweeping reforms to China’s taxi system nationwide starting in March, including giving drivers at least one day off a week, making sure drivers got social benefits like pensions, and ensuring that taxi drivers’ payments to their taxi companies are not unreasonable. Nowhere did the article mention the word “strike,” but the implications were clear enough.

A surprisingly reasonable conclusion to the whole saga, although I guess a taxi strike during the upcoming Chinese congress would be pretty embarrassing.

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