Hangzhou Taxi Strike: City Offers Deal

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Taxi drivers in Hangzhou have been on strike this week protesting rising costs and lower profit margins. Now local authorities have offered them a deal but many are still not satisfied.

Over one thousand taxi drivers in China's Eastern city of Hangzhou walked-out on strike this week. According to state media, they are angry at rising gas prices and congestion on the roads.

Drivers say they are struggling to make ends meet.

[Mr Niu, Hangzhou Taxi Driver]:
"The main thing is that we cannot make any money. What we can earn is only between 30 to 50 yuan (4 to 5 U.S. dollars) a day. Fuel and car rental costs are so high. So we have to go on strike."

Mr Niu explains that drivers feel fares should be increased.

[Mr Niu, Hangzhou Taxi Driver]:
"I hope the government can increase the taxi fares so that it can be acceptable to all of the taxi drivers. What kinds of profits can we earn if our costs are kept so high?"

The strike started on Monday and on Tuesday local authorities offered drivers a deal. A subsidy of one yuan, that's 16 US cents, will be paid per trip, starting immediately. Fares would also be increased by October.

Yet drivers dismissed this promise and empty taxis still lined the streets on Tuesday.

Over a hundred striking drivers assembled outside a police station to demand the release of drivers detained on Monday who had protested and persuaded others not to work.

Protests of this sort are becoming common in China, in April truck drivers in Shanghai also walked-out in protest at rising expenses.

Ben Hedges

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