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Bus drivers strike over pay, conditions

PUBLIC transport services fully resumed yesterday afternoon in a southwestern Chinese city after bus drivers ended a strike.

The drivers in the downtown area of Bazhong, Sichuan Province, went on strike yesterday morning to draw attention to low pay, long hours and safety concerns.

Li Shike, deputy director of the municipal planning and construction bureau, confirmed that public transport has fully resumed in the city in northeast Sichuan.

All 100 buses with the city's only bus company, Bazhong Bashan Public Transport Co, stopped running at 6:40am, said Yu Zhixiang, deputy general manager of the company.

"Earlier there were no signs of a strike," said Yu.

People were left standing at bus stops and many ended up walking to work or school or taking taxis as drivers refused to operate buses in the morning.

About 30 buses resumed services at 7:30am after consultations between drivers and local officials.

The municipal government gathered and met with drivers at a school from 9:00am to 11:30am, said Yue Wei from Bazhong City's publicity department.

All the other drivers returned to work after the authorities agreed to hear their demands and set up a more reasonable salary system after inspections in neighboring cities.

"We returned to work after government coordination. The government promised to give us a satisfactory reply before June 20," said a driver surnamed Li.

Drivers said they wanted reduced hours and higher pay. They work about 13 hours a day, at least 20 days a month, and earn 1,500 yuan (US$219) to 1,800 yuan a month.

"On working days, I get up at 5am and go to bed at 10pm," said one driver.


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