Asia-Pacific

Chinese authorities move to end lorry driver strike

Policemen arrest a man after he threw rocks at a truck, as truck drivers continue with their third day of strike near a port area in Shanghai April 22, 2011.
Scuffles between police and truck drivers took place at the protest on Thursday

The authorities in Shanghai, China's busiest port city, have cut fees in an attempt to end protests by truck drivers.

Hundreds of drivers took part in three days of protests against port fees and rising fuel prices in a move which reportedly caused delays to shipping.

A local government spokesperson said port operations were running normally.

Correspondents say it is not immediately clear if the move will end the protests.

'Money in hand'

Steps by the government will include "lowering standard fees and removing non-standard fees", according to an unidentified spokesperson for the Shanghai city government quoted by Xinhua news agency.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Shangai says this was the first mention of the dispute in China's heavily censored media.

In recent days, all references to the protest on websites and microblogs had been removed by the authorities.

Drivers began the protest on Wednesday over rising fuel prices and port fees, blockading two cargo ports - Baoshan and Waigaoqiao - in the city.

China has raised fuel prices several times in the past year, blaming the rising cost of crude oil.

Our correspondent says the strike shows the potential of problems caused by inflation to fuel unrest, and the authorities will be worried about possible copycat strikes at other ports where workers have similar grievances.

It is hard to be certain at this stage whether Shanghai's proposals will be enough to end this industrial action, but areas which have seen confrontations are said to be calm, our correspondent adds.

Some drivers told Reuters news agency they had not received enough information about the fee cuts and vowed to continue the strike until concrete results were achieved.

"There is still a strike on. There are supposed to be organisers in talks but I won't believe it until I have the money in my hand," one driver from Henan province told the news agency.

Chinese officials have warned that inflation is likely to remain high for the rest of the year. Consumer prices rose 4.9% in February from the same month a year ago, above the maximum target of 4%.

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