Sun, Apr 24, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Shanghai offers fee cuts to defuse strike

Reuters, SHANGHAI

Truck drivers fix a container truck yesterday on an unfinished road used as a parking lot by truck drivers near a port in Shanghai.

Photo: REUTERS

The Shanghai City Government is cutting some fees to defuse striking truck drivers’ anger about high fuel prices, an official spokesman said yesterday, after days of confrontation earlier this week disrupted the world’s busiest port.

The Shanghai government’s promised steps, which include “lowering standard fees and removing non-standard fees,” came after the strike made global headlines amid worries it could disrupt trade flows in China’s biggest commercial hub.

Shanghai is actively taking measures to respond to the strike, -Xinhua news agency reported early yesterday, citing an unidentified Shanghai government spokesman.

All ports in Shanghai were -operating normally, the spokesman added.

Separately, the Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority said yesterday it would cancel certain fees, such as a fuel surcharge, while lowering a few other fees for the container road transport sector.

The new measures, which also specified how certain fees should be charged and promised help to companies facing operational difficulties, were aimed at “easing rising inflation and cost pressures on transport companies,” the port authority said in a statement on its Web site, without mentioning the strike by the truck drivers.

Up to now, Shanghai officials have not commented publicly about the strike, a boldly public demonstration of anger about rising consumer prices and fuel price increases in China.

The Xinhua report about the Shanghai government’s steps was in English, and China’s tightly controlled state media has otherwise made scant mention of the unrest.

On Friday, a crowd of about 600 people milled about outside an office of a logistics company near the Baoshan Port, one of the city’s string of ports. Some threw rocks at trucks whose drivers had not joined the strike, breaking the windows of at least one truck.

The situation appeared calm in the Baoshan area yesterday, with no organized activity by the drivers and only a small security presence.

Some drivers said they had heard about the city government’s offers, while many complained they did not have enough information and vowed to continue the strike unless concrete results were achieved in negotiations with the authorities.

“There is still a strike on. There are supposed to be organizers in talks, but I won’t believe it until I have the money in my hand,” said one driver from Henan Province who wouldn’t give his name.

“If I earn 10 yuan [US$1.50], and it costs me 11, what’s the point?” he said.

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