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August 2, 2011

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Shanghai drivers' pensions plea

DOZENS of Shanghai taxi drivers went on strike yesterday in a dispute over pensions.

From 9am, the cabbies parked their vehicles in front of the Fuxin Taxi Co on Songhong Road and also on Kele Road and Xianxia Road. Notices placed on their windshields read: "I want a pension."

A security guard at a residential complex on Kele Road said at least 20 drivers had parked their cabs there.

The cabbies claim that the company was not paying its share of pension contributions.

The protest lasted until about 3pm when company managers came out to talk to them, witnesses said.

It is believed negotiations got under way later in the afternoon but Fuxin declined to comment on the strike.

An official with the Changning District Human Resources and Social Security Bureau said they were looking into the dispute.

Shanghai traffic authorities said late yesterday that the problem had been solved but did not disclose details about what had happened.

It was not the first time that city cabbies had gone on strike over pensions.

In mid July some cabbies from the Chengjian Taxi Co also parked their cars on a downtown street, blocking a lane of traffic.

Some of the city's smaller taxi companies have long been accused of not paying or not paying enough social insurance for their drivers, including pension contributions, medical insurance and work-injury insurance.

Long hours and poor welfare benefits are a cause of concern for many drivers.

The Shanghai taxi business employs about 100,000 cabbies who work on average more than 15 hours a day.

Under China's Social Insurance Law, both employers and employees are required to pay mandatory social insurance. Some drivers have to pay the social insurance themselves, but can only afford a small amount which, they say, will not cover their basic expenses after retirement.

"I really worry about my life when I cannot drive a taxi anymore," said Jin Kangsheng, a cabbie who has been in the business for 18 years and works for one of Shanghai's bigger companies.

Jin said cabbies' welfare had long been neglected, even by drivers themselves, who do not pay much attention to social insurance.

Jin pays 187 yuan per month to cover his pension and his company pays about double that amount. The lowest contribution of other city workers is around 200 yuan.

"This means I will get much less once I retire," said Jin, who said he had raised the problem with top traffic officials.


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