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Bus drivers strike over pay and privatization
More than 3,000 bus drivers in the northeastern city of Jinzhou went out on strike on 19 July 2007, demanding higher wages and protesting at the municipal bus company's privatization plans.
All bus routes were cancelled and hundreds of drivers staged a protest outside the Jinzhou Municipal Party building. One bus driver told Radio Free Asia: "We have not had a wage rise in the last ten years, it doesn't matter if you are a bus driver or anyone else everyone deserves a pay rise."
Other drivers complained that their shifts had been extended without compensation, and many expressed concern at the bus company's privatization plans, which they feared could seriously jeopardize their livelihoods.
The city-wide strike caused serious disruption to the local economy and prevented many commuters from getting to and from work, however according to many blogs from Jinzhou in the early stages of the strike, most citizens were sympathetic to the bus drivers' cause.
By 23 July, most of the drivers had returned to work but over one thousand remained out on strike, and the city's bus service was fragmented at best. Workers and management had yet to fix a timetable for negotiations.
The following day, local authorities ordered a news blackout and all new Internet postings related to the strike were taken down. The status of the strike is currently unclear.
As we have seen in the case in the Shuangma Cement Plant strike earlier this month, the key response of the authorities in China currently to serious labour disputes is to prevent news of the dispute from getting out rather than attempting to resolve the dispute itself. And in the run up to the Olympics in Beijing next year, we can expect much more heavy-handed news management of this kind as the government seeks to present its vision of a "harmonious society" to the outside world.