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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Govt drive aims for fair play on taxis

By Chen Xin and Xin Dingding  (China Daily)

08:28, February 29, 2012

BEIJING - The government plans to improve labor relations within the taxi industry in a move to better protect drivers' rights and reduce the chance of strikes.

Aiming to introduce collective talks between taxi drivers and employers, the transport and labor ministries, together with the major trade union organization, have announced a two-year campaign starting next month.

"More than half of the disputes in the taxi industry in recent years were related to poor labor relations, unreasonable contract fees (that drivers pay employers) and insufficient protection of drivers' rights," said Deputy Minister of Transport Feng Zhenglin at a work conference on Monday.

There are more than 8,700 taxi corporations, about 1 million taxis and more than 2 million cab drivers in China, according to the People's Daily.

In general, taxi firms lease a car to one or two drivers on monthly contracts.

"Taxi drivers in many places have been complaining about being overcharged for contract fees and that has led to drivers' strikes in places such as Chongqing and Hainan in the past several years," said Feng Xiliang, a labor expert at the Beijing-based Capital University of Economics and Business.

In many small and medium-sized cities, contracts between drivers and employers were lacking, he said.

A manager surnamed Li with Minda taxi service in Jiangjin, a county-level district in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, said his firm owns 93 taxis and normally two drivers a day take a turn at the wheel.

Li said that his company always contracts the operation rights to one driver who has to find another driver to jointly run the cab.

"We do not sign a contract with the second driver, and it's a common practice in the industry," he said.

Li welcomes the government's plan to regulate employment contracts and believes it will help address the frequent turnover of drivers. "But I'm afraid it would increase our costs," he said.

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