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    Ride-hailing drivers' rights get protection

    By LUO WANGSHU | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-12-01 09:00
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    Drivers use Didi Chuxing's charging services platform Xiaoju. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

    Eight ministries issue joint guideline to improve pay and working conditions

    A guideline designed to better protect the rights of drivers working for ride-hailing services was issued by eight ministry-level departments, including the Ministry of Transport and the Cyberspace Administration of China, on Tuesday.

    It said ride-hailing companies must inform drivers of the amount of commission the platform takes after each transaction.

    The platforms are also required to solicit opinions from drivers, trade unions and industry associations before making or adjusting price distribution plans, which are to be publicized a month ahead of their implementation.

    "The new formats in the transportation industry, such as online ride-hailing, have boomed recently and contributed greatly to people's lives," Ministry of Transport spokesman Liu Pengfei said. "Meanwhile, people working in these fields have encountered difficulties, including long working hours, heavy workload, the lack of recognition of the profession and poorly protected rights."

    Liu told an online news conference on Tuesday the guideline is a move to better protect people working in the industry.

    "The new guideline ensures drivers earn a reasonable income," he said, adding that the industry regulator will pay attention to drivers' incomes and publicize the standard salary.

    Drivers have complained about the platforms' unclear and complicated rules for collecting commissions.

    According to a report about ride-hailing drivers in China's major cities this year, which was released in May by Tsinghua University, some drivers left large platforms for smaller ones because of high commissions and unclear rules. About 20 percent of drivers said they were unaware of the platforms' rules.

    Didi Chuxing, China's biggest ride-hailing company, said last year drivers receive 79 percent of fares. It also said that some orders, such as carpooling, result in drivers receiving a smaller proportion of the fare. About 2.7 percent of transactions had commissions higher than 30 percent.

    According to the Tsinghua report, most drivers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou work almost seven days a week and eight to 16 hours a day, with an average 11.05 working hours.

    Some platforms make rules to encourage drivers to work long hours. For instance, a platform will give points to drivers in accordance with their performance, including their attendance rate. If a driver takes some days off, the points will drop, which will make it less likely for the platform to send the driver good orders.

    The new rules asked companies to reduce drivers' work time and banned the platforms from setting rules that encourage long working hours.

    The drivers' working environment and conditions will also be improved, as the rules encourage the setting up of temporary parking zones where drivers can take a break, as well as guidance to help drivers find diners and bathrooms.

    "If I take too many breaks, my points will go down and I won't get good long-distance orders," said a driver surnamed Sun who takes just one day off each month.

    When he learned of the guideline he said he thought it would really help because he is tired of the rat race.

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