China: Why protests by China’s truck drivers could put the brakes on the economy
25 June, 2018
E-commerce is central to the Chinese government’s efforts to shift the economy away from export-led growth towards consumer spending...The truck drivers who move those goods are running into a brick wall of skyrocketing fuel costs, tolls, truck loans, falling rates, arbitrary fines and declining orders, posing a new labour challenge for the authorities.
Those frustrations spilled over into protests earlier this month when drivers mounted strikes in at least a dozen places across the nation...Hong Kong workers’ rights group China Labour Bulletin said thousands of drivers took part in the protests but news of their actions was censored in China...Du, who trucked vegetables from Chengdu instead of joining the strike, said many of those who did demonstrate were taken away by police.
The [truck drivers] conditions are gruelling. According to a Social Sciences Academic Press study released in April, most Chinese truck drivers work up to 12 hours a day and more than 70 per cent who own their own trucks cannot afford to employ a relief driver...Most of [the drivers earnings] goes to paying off truck loans...“After the truck payment, it’s really not enough to support my family,”
On top of that, Wang said he lived away from his family and would get just four hours of sleep on a 24-hour trip..."What I earn is still not enough to pay loans and living costs. That’s what drove the drivers to take to the street,” said Wang
The precarious situation of truck drivers...is in part because they are not covered by the country’s labour law...Pun said the labour contract law should be strictly implemented across all industries to protect workers, including the self-employed.