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March 8, 2011

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Food market traders strike over parking charges

FOOD market vendors in Yangpu District went on strike yesterday after market management began charging parking fees for their trucks.

Traders at Jipu Market, at 329 Jipu Road, say they are being charged too much and want fees lowered.

Market managers claim most vendors wanted to open for business but were forced to strike by a minority.

Some traders say they were threatened by strike organizers.

Officials of the Wujiaochang community met last night with management and vendors.

There are plans to dispatch riot police to the market today.

Strike action was reported yesterday morning at the 2,200-square-meter market which left nearby residents - nearly 7,000 households - having to buy food at other wet markets or supermarkets.

Since last Saturday, vendors' vehicles are being charged between 150 yuan (US$23) and 400 yuan per month for occupying parking spots outside the market.

They had been informed of the change last October, but it still angered traders used to free spots.

The charge is mainly for improving the parking lot, said Yu Jiachang, assistant manager of the property management company for the market.

There was also misuse of the parking, Yu said. "They were not using the trucks for business inside the market but occupying the spot to sell vegetables wholesale to other markets.

Sometimes these trucks were just pulled over at the gate and caused environmental problems."

Yu said there were about 60 parking spots in the market, of which 20 were usually occupied by vendors.

Other drivers would take advantage of the free spots intended for customers.

"We want to return the spots to people buying something at the market," said Yu.

Chen Ximing, the general manager of the market, said he had negotiated with vendors and only several did not agree with the plan.

The market said the parking fee could be negotiated if traders returned to work. "After all, the market, vendors and customers all lose in such situations," Chen said.

While most stalls were covered, some vendors still wanted to work, but say they were threatened. "We wanted to open, but faced threats when we went to set out our stalls this morning," one vendor said.

"You have economic demands, I understand, but don't make this political," a police officer surnamed Wang told vendors.


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