Recently, it was reported that the drivers of the Chinese ride-hailing app Lalamove have been on strike for the past few days. Protests have spread to Wuhan in Hubei, Changsha in Hunan, Quanzhou in Fujian, Wenzhou in Zhejiang and Shenzhen in Guangdong. A video posted online showed a large number of police arriving at the scene to maintain stability, and the two sides clashed. The agitated drivers shouted: “Are we breaking the law? Police beat people!”
HK01 on November 18 reported more than 400 drivers gathered near the Jinzhou building in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, on November 17, demanding the reform of the Lalamove shipping service application. More than a thousand people in Shenzhen responded to the activity. According to a video posted by netizens, many Lalamove drivers gathered to protest and shouted, “Take it down to reform, Take it down to reform,” and “Take down Lalamove.” Many police were sent to the scene to maintain stability.
The video shows that a large number of police forcefully suppressed the drivers. The protest drivers loudly asked: “Are we breaking the law? The police beat people! Are we breaking the law?”. The scene looks chaotic.
Vision Times quoted a driver at the scene saying that the reason for their dissatisfaction was very low income: “In the past, the fee per km applied on mini-trucks was 2.8 yuan/km[$0.39/km], which is barely acceptable. But now it’s only 2 yuan [$0.27] or even less. They pay so low that we can’t accept it.”
On November 16, Lalamove drivers also posted short videos online, saying they were not satisfied with the reduced earnings due to the new order calculation. They announced that they would not take orders for the next three days, as reported by China’s “Economic Observer” newspaper. However, the article has been censored. (Picture 1, Picture 2)
As reported by Elephant, Lalamove driver protests that started in the Pearl River Delta have now spread to the whole country. There are thousands of Lalamove drivers in Zhengzhou city, and 90% have gone on strike.
The report quoted a truck driver as saying that the Lalamove platform’s calculation of mileage and cargo weight is incorrect. Furthermore, the cargo owner is entitled to request the driver to unload the goods upon arrival at the station. If the driver disagrees, the client will complain to Lalamove, and their account will be deducted. Or if delayed delivery happens due to traffic jams, the client can also complain to Lalamove and the driver’s account will also be deducted. “They can deduct our account for any reason. I don’t even have money to buy food.”
Another driver said he has been providing good transportation services using the Lalamove platform for less than a year. He noticed there were many orders in the first few months, but they have decreased lately. A longtime Lalamove driver told him this is because the platform had targeted orders for new drivers to attract them.
He said, for the same distance, sometimes the fee is high, sometimes low. The fee is never clear, which also confuses the drivers.
According to a Lalamove driver in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, the drivers have collectively stopped taking orders in many places and planned to stop operating until November 18 to make themselves heard.
He also pointed out that although their appeal’s details might vary from place to place, they all align with one single-minded purpose. “Among them, the traffic suspension in Guangdong is the most prominent, and the calls from drivers are also the most comprehensive and representative.”
According to public information, Lalamove, founded in 2013, is a platform for delivery, home moving, and other services. As of August this year, Lalamove’s business coverage covers 352 cities in China, with 660,000 active drivers and 9.5 million monthly active users.
This problem has been around for a long time in China. In June 2018, truck drivers in many provinces in China also launched a strike due to dissatisfaction with increasing transportation fees, rising oil prices, low freight rates, and arbitrary penalties by the police. This activity affected Jiangxi, Shanghai, Hubei, Anhui, Chongqing, Shandong, Guizhou and many more other places. The main reason for the strike was that intermediaries like Lalamove charge commission fees too high, while foreign truckers dominate the local market with low prices.
But it is infuriating that the official Chinese media did not cover the incident, which provoked an outcry among the people. Some drivers even shouted “Down with the Communist Party!” to protest the government’s inaction. In addition to the protests at the scene, some drivers also posted on Weibo listing the “Ten Deadly Sins” of the Chinese government to make their inaction known more widely.