NANJING, China, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Taxi drivers in six Chinese cities have gone on strike, claiming high expenses and competition from Uber and other ride-sharing companies. Drivers in Nanjing joined the strike Wednesday, parking their vehicles at the city's airport and rail stations in protest, and many taxis simply drove around the city without picking up fares. The Nanking drivers joined those in Chengdu, Nanchang, Changchun and other provincial capitals in the strike. They claim contract fees to cab companies take as much as third of their revenue, noting the Chinese government has not issued new taxi licenses since the 1990s. The high price of natural gas, which powers the taxis, is also an issue, they said.
"Drivers are basically held hostage to the companies, and they are constantly getting squeezed. But the discussion of these apps seems to have encouraged taxi drivers to press their case and try to draw attention to their longstanding grievances," Geoffrey Crothall of the Hong Kong-based activist group China Labor Bulletin told the New York Times.
They also point to Uber, the ride-sharing cellphone app, and similar local versions underwritten by Chinese Internet companies Alibaba and Tencent. Although the market penetration of the ride-sharing services is unclear, Uber has been sued in other cities around the world by driver's unions and taxi companies.
China's Ministry of Transport banned use of the ride-sharing apps last week by any driver other than a taxi operator, saying on its website that "While we encourage innovation, we prohibit private cars from using platforms to participate in the 'hired car' business."