Shanghai offers concessions to truckers but talks continue

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Authorities in the Chinese port city of Shanghai have offered concessions to striking lorry drivers who picketed shipping sites last week in protest at rising fuel costs. The Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority on Friday proposed abolishing or reducing various fees incurred by drivers.


But there was still some dispute over container freight charges, said Wen Yunchao, a

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prominent blogger who has followed the strike. Authorities have reduced the changes from 50 yuan (5.3 euros) to 20 yuan (2.1 euros) per container, but drivers want them abolished altogether.

Negotiations were reported to be continuing Saturday.

Shanghai is the world’s busiest container port.

The walkouts this week by hundreds of drivers seem to underline official concerns that inflation might spark unrest.

Police were dispatched to several port sites in Shanghai during the week after drivers got together on Wednesday to call for higher freight rates to compensate for three rises in

diesel prices since December.

China’s consumer price index has risen 5.4 per cent year-on-year in March, the fastest rise since July 2008. The government’s target was four per cent.

Inflation has a history of sparking unrest in China.

The popular unrest that lead to the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown was partly caused by rising prices of food. A successful taxi drivers’ strike in the south-western megacity of Chongqing in 2008 triggered similar action in other cities across the country.

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