Last week truck drivers of China staged a nationwide strike in protest low fees, rising fuel costs and insecure contracts.
The Protest was called via social media. In over 12 cities and 9 provinces truck drivers were protesting. They blocked roads over the weekend.
Most of them also protested because the transportation apps are squeezing their profits. With the apps, the competition among drivers is increasing even more because they are forced to accept the orders immediately.
There is also a high frustration about high fuel costs. Gas prices have risen this year by 8,6 % in China.
The fuel prices are rising and toll fees are going up. Therefore the drivers have to work night and day and cant make any profit. In addition, the drivers own the trucks themselves.
The strike was quickly told and the immediate consequence was a massive news blackout.
In other parts of the world, such as Brazil and Iran, truck drivers also went on strike because of the high fuel prices and poor working conditions.
In the following we document an declaration by the “Struggle Association”, a revolutionary organisation from China:
Long live the national truck drivers’ strike!
The truck drivers’ strike took place on June 8, two days prior to the planned date. As of now, this spontaneous strike wave has rapidly spread to Jiangxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Chongqing, Shanghai, Anhui, Hubei, Zhejiang, and other provinces, elevating the strike to a national level. Truck drivers from all over the country have blocked major road with protest banners attached to their vehicles, demanding higher transport prices, lower fuel prices, improvement in living and working conditions, and abolish the panorama of collusive monopoly, arbitrary fines, and constantly changing policies. According to the drivers on strike, the strike would last for at least ten days, and they will not give up until the regime concedes to their demands. The transport prices of truck drivers have barely increased since 2000. However, fuel prices have been constantly increasing, not mentioning the incessant tolling and arbitrary fines by the police… The harsh reality forced truck drivers to desperately seek for their livelihood: processing as many orders as they can, driving for 12 hours per day or more, and taking less than two days of break every month. Truck drivers are only able to use National Highways as the incessant tolling of freeways makes their runs no longer profitable. Nonetheless, the National Highway network covers many dangerous roads: combined with fatigue caused by longer driving hours, staying concentrated has become a harder task for truck drivers. As a result, fatal accidents are now a common occurrence. Other drivers are also beset with numerous occupational illnesses and injuries. Truck driving has gradually become a high-risk occupation. Furthermore, the already insufficient wages the drivers risked their lives for are running out after subtracting fees incurred from all kinds of tolls and gas from their earnings, making them no longer able to sustain the lives of themselves and their family.
Other than this, what made the situation completely intolerable for the Chinese truck drivers was the monopoly of Manbang Corporation – the result of a merger between “Yun Man Man” and “Huo Che Bang”, two biggest companies in the transportation sector – over the market through its control of mobile applications, which again lowered the meager transportation prices. Mr. Li, a striking truck driver, stated, “All of us drivers (using the database app of “Manbang Corp”) must pay about 1,000 to 3,000 yuan per year to continue using their service. 10 messages cost 688 yuan. Another thing that pains us is the referral fee. We are truck drivers; cargo owners look for trucks through the platform: say they agree to pay 2,000 yuan when communicating with the platform, but Yun Man Man would only give us 1,500 to 1,800 yuan when we contact them, taking off the surplus. Now the prices are getting lower and lower to the extent that we literally can’t run anymore.”
The genuine revolutionary Marxist-Leninist-Maoists firmly support this strike by our trucker brothers and sisters! Strike is an indeprivable right and a weapon of struggle exercised and took up by every worker exploited by the bourgeoisie. This ongoing great truck drivers’ strike is one of the first nationwide large-scale strikes in decades. Its importance is not limited to the truck drivers alone, but also to the working masses of every arduous trade in all of China. It made clear the fact that Chinese workers dare to break through the prevailing white terror of the bourgeoisie and challenge corrupt bureaucrats and capitalists on the streets, carrying forward a collective resistance. The recovering rebelling spirit of the Chinese proletariat is finally reflected in the tremendous class hatred through concrete actions of the nationwide struggle against monopoly capitalism.
However, it must be held true both painfully and certainly, that this strike would ultimately end in a tragic defeat. But the brave trucker brothers and sisters are not the ones to blame. This strike is a spontaneous struggle of dissatisfied truck drivers. However, due to the fact that there exists no real nationwide labor unions entrusted by the workers to jointly organize the strike effort, to coordinate strikes in each province, to notify the masses of the immediate situation of the strike and inspire more social strata to join the struggle, to provide accurate directions and notifications, and to send teams of agitators among the the truck driver masses to educate and agitate, this strike is doomed to be isolated, disorganized, and therefore easily broken up and struck down one by one; this dissatisfaction would deplete and the resolve would waver in but a few days. On the other hand, the bourgeoisie who has control over the state machinery has the tightest organization.
The reactionaries are well aware of this. Starting from yesterday, three days after the start of the strike, the police has pressured striking truck drivers in all directions and tried to create division among the strikers: many truck drivers who planned to go on strike were forced to capitulate under heavy pressure and went back to driving, cargo transport businesses in many locations have resumed operations, severely weakening the strength of the strikers, making it no longer possible to cause national price fluctuations and force the authorities to concede through the stoppage of cargo transportation.
Facing the prospect of failure, the most urgent thing in front of revolutionary Marxist-Leninist-Maoists is not to fill oneself with indignation of the authorities (anyone could easily do that), but self-criticisms in a serious manner. The fundamental cause for the strike to fail at any moment is the lack of a labor union or a revolutionary organization belongs to the workers capable of coordinate and inspire strikes. A strike without the leadership of such a strong revolutionary organization, even though participated broadly and valiantly by workers, is unable to conquer victory, as its scattered and indefinite strength is unable to stay either protracted or concentrated. There are no weapons of theory capable of reshaping the world sharper than Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but most domestic “Marxist-Leninist-Maoists”, although branding it as their “beliefs”, are completely unable to apply it through practice, not mentioning have never tried in a serious manner to build a nationwide revolutionary organization united with the workers. This long period of inactivity not only excluded and alienated Marxist-Leninist-Maoists from political struggle, but also disabled the masses of the ability to mount any resistance when they developed class consciousness themselves, making most basic economic strikes like this not only unable to succeed, but also confronted by the danger of repression. If the revolutionaries aren’t organized tightly, the masses can’t be organized, and if the masses aren’t organized, thoughts for any victory, including economic gains in strikes, are delusive under the fascist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
The bleak current situation is: if the liberation of the Chinese proletariat, a giant, depends on its two legs: the left leg is the seasoned proletarian revolutionary organization, and the right leg is the rebellious consciousness of the proletarian masses. Neither leg is strong enough, nonetheless, the left leg, comparing to its counterpart, is severely dysplastic, and this symptom in turn restrained the growth of the right leg, as it constituted a “Li Tieguai-style” giant: due to its disability, every step of this giant – who was supposed to conquer everything – towards victory became this difficult, every resistance against the oppressors became this hopeless, tripping on almost every step, and finally, ended up all black and blue. The reality has shown, that the dilemma faced by the masses risen up in revolt and strike is precisely caused by this group of pseudo-revolutionaries in their armchairs for years doing nothing. Currently, the degree of organization of revolutionary Marxist-Leninist-Maoists in our country is still close to zero, making an unequal match with the working masses’ – spontaneously striking and resisting – dissatisfaction with the current system.
Regarding economic strikes, it should be realized that even their victories wouldn’t solve the fundamental problem of exploitation: this would at most reduce fuel prices temporarily, increase transportation costs temporarily, limit embezzlement temporarily, and improve the living condition of workers temporarily, but the bourgeoisie, who appears to have taken a step back, would soon once more seize all fruits of victories from these economic strikes using the state that it clutches tightly in its hands when the workers scatter after their supposed “victories”. When class consciousness of the people has yet to develop and revolutionary organizations have yet to mature, economic strikes can be a viable choice to train the masses to struggle against the bourgeoisie; but if the workers are to smash the bourgeoisie’s shackles once and for all, the only way forward is to launch large-scale political strikes, expand the political rights of the workers, and set the aim on the conquest of power, the reshaping of the society, in other words, to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat and abolish the fascist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, as well as the relation of production that exploits the workers and market economy under private ownership that it defends, and replace them with a planned economy under common ownership that utilizes all wealth to serve the livelihood of the people. In China, to commence political strikes without taking up arms is absolutely hopeless, just like to commence economic strikes without organization is hopeless as well.
After the truckers started the strike, a group of suit-wearing “democrats” who have been propagating for the American-style “democracy” raised their voices in support in their villas, as if they represent the interest of the worker masses – we cannot be fooled by them! We cannot forget what kind of trash those neoliberal “democrats” worshiping capitalist “democracy” are. We can expose the disguise of those so-called “democrats” just like poking through a house of paper by looking at what’s really going on in the noble example of their “democracy”, the United States. If it were to be said that “distinctions” exist between China and the US, then, the only distinction is their distinct forms of “democracy”: one is where the bourgeoisie appointing “people’s representatives” from top to bottom in plain sight, forbidding anyone from resisting and striking; and the other is where the bourgeoisie, through a self-directed farce of democracy, let the masses “elect” senators representing the interest of the bourgeoisie. In the “democratic” US under its dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the workers are also being exploited, also lacking a discourse, also facing the repression of the police, also living in slums, and since the ascension of Trump, even the robe of “democracy” and the handful of “democratic rights” are being torn apart by the capitalists themselves. It can be observed, that what those holier-than-thou “democrats” wish to have is but another form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with another layer of “democracy”: this system would only continue to worsen the conditions of the workers, even placing China under the control of the US bourgeoisie again.
In the eyes of many, a third choice doesn’t exist besides the Western capitalist “democracy” and the capitalist fascism which is ruling China right now. This way, the masses are either used by the capitalist “democracy” or the capitalist fascism. But a third choice exists, and it is only not recognized by the broad masses of people because the revolutionaries haven’t put in enough work. Any type of capitalist states is the oppressor of the broad masses of people. The only road that can liberate the working people is the elevation of the proletariat to the position of ruling class and the proletarian revolution towards global communism. This requires the proletariat to struggle without being subjected or used by any force not a part of proletariat itself. We can’t expect too much whether this nationwide truck drivers’ strike would solve anything, but it is a great beginning of a new era of the awakening of the Chinese proletariat. Regardless of how much the bourgeoisie tries to block information regarding this strike, they cannot erase the deep impression it left on the masses. It brought a whirlwind of struggle to a China almost suffocating from the capitalist fascist dictatorship; the spontaneous nationwide action of truck drivers stirred the sleeping backwater of the Chinese workers movement; but the dilemma that came immediately after it rang a bell for us Marxist-Leninist-Maoists.
This bell warned us that we have fallen behind the masses on the way to revolution, and the masses are facing defeat because of this. It is warning us to immediately engage in concrete struggles, to take up the role of organizing workers all over the country; it is warning us to dare to hold ourselves responsible for every failure, to organize ourselves into a national revolutionary organization, and with this leverage, organize the proletariat into a giant that will win the complete victory in liberating itself. Long live the national truck drivers’ strike!