Chongqing promises to ease cabbies' plight as strike continues 2008-11-04 11:14:49   Print

    CHONGQING, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- The daily fee Chongqing cab drivers pay to their companies will be reduced by up to 70 yuan (10 U.S. dollars), down from 440 yuan, said a government spokesman on Tuesday, in this southwest Municipality of China.

    It is illegal for cab companies to increase the fares without government permission, said Zhou Bo, vice publicity director of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chongqing Committee, adding that high fees was the main reason for the cabbies' strike,

    Shortages of compressed natural gas (CNG) which fuels most cabs in Chongqing, competition from unlicensed cabs and high fines for traffic violations ignited the strike, according to the government.

    In addition, the government would revise the division of fares between drivers and companies in favor of the drivers, said Zhou, admitting that the details and methods were yet to be decided.

    Unlicensed cab drivers would be penalized to protect the interests of licensed drivers, said Zhou.

    Nearly 4,000 cabs, or half the striking cabs, resumed operation as of 2 p.m. on Tuesday after the municipal government moved to tackle their grievances.

    However, fear of retaliation from drivers still on strike and the threat of their cars being smashed up may force working drivers back on strike, said Liang Peijun, vice director of the city transport administration, adding that 103 cabs were vandalized in the past 48 hours.

    Cab companies promised to pay the loss and drivers be exempted from their daily fees, as a move to persuade the employees back to work, said Liang.

    The government was still considering whether direct supervision of the companies or legislating on income was the best move, but it was studying issues, including administration costs and the workloads of drivers.

    The municipal government would also increase the daily supply of 100,000 cubic meters CNG. Chongqing has 75 fuel stations, including 46 in major urban zones.

    Drivers must wait up to three hours to refill their CNG tanks at a limited number of fuel stations, and each taxi needs to be fueled four times a day.

    Striking driver Tan Daihua said he had promised his wife that he would bring home 100 yuan (14.60 U.S. dollars) a day when he began work for a cab company. "However, I have given her 100 yuan in the past four days. The government should do something to help me back to work."

    A cab driver in Chongqing has to pay company owners 380 yuan to 440 yuan a day in fees, and owners are believed to have profited massively by extracting ever higher monthly payments in return for the right to drive.

    About 800 of the 9,000 urban cabbies in the fourth-largest city of China returned to work by 2 p.m. on Monday, some with transport officials in their passenger seats as protection from their striking colleagues.

    Chongqing has about 1,000 cab companies, with 34 taxi companies that own more than 100 cabs each, including two owned by the municipal government, said Wang Shiqi, director of the city cab association.

Cab drivers stop work in SW China city 

    CHONGQING, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- The government of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality said on Monday it would take measures to help cab drivers, following a morning work-stoppage that turned violent at times.

    The government has begun seeking opinions on raising fares, increasing compressed natural gas (CNG) supplies and cracking down on unlicensed cabs, said Liang Peijun, deputy director of the city's transportation commission. Full story

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