China’s delivery van drivers face huge pressures at the best of times but they are now being squeezed even further by the online platforms that dominate the transport and logistics sector. Many drivers cannot earn a living wage, and a lot have already quit the industry but still more are taking collective action.https://maps.clb.org.hk/strikes/en
Strikes and protests by transport workers accounted for 12 percent of incidents recorded on China Labour Bulletin’s Strike Map last month, about the same proportion as factory workers.
There were at least nine protests by delivery drivers and couriers in July, mainly related to commission rate decreases, wage arrears and branch closures. In some cases, workers with no savings were forced to quit their job when management consistently refused to pay their wages. Moreover, some drivers were blacklisted when they came back to demand payment of wages in arrears. Company managers simply disappeared or ignored workers’ demands because they thought workers with economic difficulties could not afford a long struggle.
However, in many cases workers did not give up and took determined action to claim back what they were owed. Delivery drivers went to the labour bureau, phoned company headquarters and even disturbed the traffic, in order to safeguard their livelihood. See the two case studies below.
One notable absentee from the transport workers’ struggle, once again, was China’s official trade union. Given that the working conditions of transport workers is expected to deteriorate even further in the long run, it is crucial that the trade union starts organizing work