The Ministry of Transport, as well as eight other agencies, issued an edict that the working conditions of the operators offer carpool drivers must improve.
The main objective of the new document, entitled “Advice to strengthen the protection of workers’ rights and interests in the new mode of transport”, is for operators to become more transparent and more human.
Transparency will be achieved by providing increasingly detailed information on pricing rules and how people are paid. Drivers should receive more information about each ride before agreeing.
This information should give drivers the opportunity to “form a reasonable income expectation”.
Industry authorities, trade associations and unions must weigh in to determine the numbers. Beijing also wants unions to play a bigger role in the ridesharing industry – a call that should not be taken to mean that they will be able to wield a lot of power. Chinese trade unions contribute to the decision-making processes of the Communist Party, but are not independent.
Another change Beijing wants is for drivers to get more rest – not just what they think is fair, but a “scientific” calculated time.
To improve the working environment, permits for companies, vehicles and drivers will be subject to conditions. Taxi service areas should be built in places like hospitals, residential areas, commercial areas and transportation hubs. These areas should allow temporary stops so that drivers can eat, park and use the bathroom – just like humans do.
Insurance also made the list of things that could improve – particularly occupational injury protection for the driver.
The ministry and other agencies plan to ensure ridesharing platforms comply. “We will crack down on illegal operations and encourage the use of information technology to strengthen accurate law enforcement,” the document says, as well as promises to monitor and take action against monopoly behavior and d ” establish channels for reporting and handling complaints.
At the onset of the pandemic, taxi drivers protested that they were in financial difficulty and could not afford taxi company fees, penalties, or in some cases, vehicle rental. In mid-April 2020, the nonprofit Business & Human Rights Resource Center reported 25 taxi driver protests that occurred in the first few months of the year – mostly including requests for reduction or cancellation of rent. Comparatively, 2019 saw 54 protests throughout the year.
In 2021, Beijing implemented some reforms, including licensing requirements and an investigation into DiDi Chuxing for possible illicit taxi operations.
However, Chinese taxi drivers may face new competition as robotaxis make their commercial debut and tasks become automated. As recently as last week, 60 square kilometers in Beijing’s Economic and Technological Development Zone were approved for commercial operation of Chinese web giant Baidu’s autonomous taxi service.
In our highly scientific and statistically representative reader survey, 52.3% of you said you were not ready for driverless taxis, while 47.7% said you were. Stay tuned to see what China is feeling. ®