Dongguan Drivers Strike Again

This photo, taken by a reader, shows a gathering of Dongguan taxi drivers on Hongfu Road.

This photo, taken by a reader, shows a gathering of Dongguan taxi drivers on Hongfu Road.

Dongguan’s taxi drivers have been negotiating with their companies, resulting in a compromise to return 30 to 50 percent of “tea money” fees. The drivers, however, were not appeased by the outcome. Today dozens of taxi drivers gathered on Hongfu Road for a strike demanding that taxi companies return the money that they paid when joining the company.

Although the strike was dismissed by the interference from the police, according to a local driver still on the job, protesters are on their way to the Provincial Traffic Bureau in Guangzhou for a bigger protest.

The purpose of this strike is different from the one last month. Last month a small amount of taxi drivers went on strike demanding their companies decrease the taxi rental fee they have to pay every month.

Tea money is a euphemism for a kickback given in exchange for a position with the company. A couple of years ago, when the taxi business was lucrative, one had to pay from RMB 80,000 to 120,000 extra in order to sign the lease with a taxi company. “Not everyone had to pay the tea money, but 90 percent of them would have to,” said the driver speaking anonymously.

Today, partly due to the government crackdown on the city’s sex industry, many taxis have lost customers, resulting in a drastic decrease in monthly income. “Before the crackdown, I could make almost RMB 10,000 a month, now, 3,000 to 5,000 at most,” the driver said.

At this point it is unclear how many vehicles will be off the roads, or how long they will be missing.