November 28, 2008 / 3:20 AM / 10 years ago

New taxi strike reported in southern China

BEIJING (Reuters) - Hundreds of taxi drivers in southern China have gone on strike in protest at unlicensed taxis, state media said on Friday, in the latest of a wave of similar disputes around the country.

“The local government is trying to talk with taxi representatives to deal with the strike in a proper way,” the Guangzhou Daily quoted an official in Chaozhou city as saying, though no violence has been reported yet.

A wave of taxi strikes has broken out across China in recent weeks against unlicensed competition, high fuel prices and rising rental fees, which have threatened drivers’ livelihoods as the economy comes under strain from global financial turmoil.

Earlier this week, dozens of police grappled to restore order as more than 100 cab drivers carrying bricks and rocks intercepted and smashed unlicensed taxis in Guangzhou, capital of the export powerhouse southern province of Guangdong.

China frowns on industrial action of any kind and bans independent trade unions, depriving workers of a key channel for resolving disputes.

But taxi drivers appear to have been emboldened after a strike earlier in November in China’s fourth largest city of Chongqing won promises from local authorities to tweak fare income allocations in cab drivers’ favor.

Strikes have since been recorded in at least six other cities.

The government is also trying to grapple with rising unrest by workers laid off amid rising factory closures as China begins feeling the impact of the global economic slowdown.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Jerry Norton

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