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Taxi drivers in Hangzhou, a tourist town in southeastern China and capital of the rich coastal province of Zhejiang, were on strike on August 1 to protest against rising prices of gasoline. The Chinese authorities are concerned about the risks of contagion in a country where strikes are strictly forbidden since 1982, all at the same time in Shanghai twenty taxis have also stopped work, this time for the payment of contributions for retirement.
The fact that strikes are officially banned in China has not prevented a strong mobilization. According to state media, about a thousand taxis were on strike in Hangzhou. Other sources point to an even greater participation. According to AFP, nearly 4,000 drivers have refused to work. An estimate was confirmed by the Southern Weekly. According to the weekly magazine in Canton, half or three quarters of 8100 taxi drivers in the city have participated in the movement.
Taxi drivers think it is necessary to attract the attention of the local government on the increase in gas prices, record of 500 yuan per tonne in April by the authorities because of the increase of oil prices in the international market.
Some strikers – 7 according to local police, were arrested. At the same time, the municipality has announced a grant of 1 yuan until October and promised an increase in the price thereafter. An inadequate response to taxi drivers who were still on strike on 2 August.
According to official statistics, 280000 “mass incidents” (petitions, demonstrations, strikes) occurred in 2010, against only 87,000 in 2005. These movements, often spontaneous and poorly organized, almost always based on economic demands, foremost among them the fight against a record high inflation estimated at 6.4% this year.
In April, thousands of truck drivers from the port of Shanghai had gone on strike for five days to protest against rising fuel prices. However, claims are rarely political.