Saturday, April 23, 2011

Container Freight Stopped As Freight Drivers Strike

Government Measures May Prove Too Little Too Late to Prevent Spread
Shipping News Feature

CHINA – For the first time today the official *Chinese media have mentioned the fact that there has been serious unrest in Shanghai as truck drivers struck in protest over spiralling costs. Freight deliveries to the port were at a standstill after the stoppages started on Wednesday and numbers of protestors continued to grow. The natural reticence of the authorities to accept and publicise the situation has exacerbated the problem and now the latest moves to normalise the haulage of cargo to and from the port are under criticism.

For the past six months or so inflation in the country has been causing unrest and when stoppages to container exports at the ports of Baoshan and Waigaoqiao in the city turned nasty with truck windows smashed and cars allegedly attacked, police are reported to have made arrests. With fuel and port handling charges rising, the government have now publicly announced they will act to control costs to the hauliers.

Whether this move will satisfy the freight drivers is uncertain however and unless and until precise details of any control measures are announced it is likely that the protests will not only continue but spread to other ports. The authorities have apparently been censoring any comments regarding the unrest whenever it is published on the internet but Chinese bloggers have become masters of the algorithm and the art of avoiding the microbots which are used to detect dissent. Text is often transferred to .jpg or .pdf files and published as photographs thereby circumventing the analysts and Chinese characters can be subtly adjusted to avoid the searchers.

With drivers claiming it is cheaper to park vehicles rather than lose money working, and warehouses increasing charges for handling freight to stay solvent, the Chinese need to act quickly to avoid the spread of industrial action elsewhere and prevent a build up of essential cargo.

* is the China Internet Information Centre a web portal supposedly authorized by the People's Republic of China.