China: cabbies strike over disabled rivals
The central Chinese city of Chenzhou witnessed a strike by many hundreds of its cab drivers last week. The cause? Believe it or not, it was disabled people.
This isn't one of those stories that we're perhaps more familiar with here in the UK, in which a cabbie refuses to carry a passenger with an impairment and comes up with an often spurious reason to justify it. No, in this case the dispute was caused by an illegal, unlicensed trade that's been operating for some time amongst physically disabled people in Chenzhou. An estimated 180 of them have been using their cars to carry fare-paying passengers, without forwarding the necessary fees to taxi companies or seeking approval from the relevant authorities.
We love this story - especially in London where the tube drivers are going on strike tonight at 7.00pm. The report just talks about this cab drivers' strike as an oddity but Ouch! wanted to know more ... WHY and HOW is it that 180 disabled people have suddenly decided to become illegal cabbies? What's going on?
We imagined that these physically disabled Chinese people had possibly received some form of state benefit which enabled them to own cars, putting them at a distinct advantage over the rest of the population perhaps, and they were using this opportunity to go into business - albeit illegally. But no, a number of the reports make clear that they were using "vehicles that they bought themselves".
We wondered, too, whether there was some crucial information missing from these mostly China-based news sources about the status of disabled people in the country - had they taken up cab-driving because no other work was available to them and it was the only way to support themselves? Or maybe the story here was that a number of disabled people had set themselves up as taxi drivers, others had seen their success, and it had very quickly become a popular, though unlawful, trade.
If you have any further knowledge on this, we'd love to hear from you. We'll keep looking too.