Truckers in South China who are seeking higher earnings reportedly blocked the main road leading to ports in western Shenzhen on Thursday, and threatened to take their protest to larger ports if they are unable to charge higher rates.
Patrick Ahern, vice president-international at National Retail Systems, said his company’s shipments were delayed for a day, although the situation could be worse if the protests spread to larger ports in the East such as Yantian.
While some of National Retail Systems’ shipments were caught up in the truck blockade, the company was able to divert a portion to barge transportation on the Pearl River, Ahern said.
Thursday’s blockade affected western Shenzhen ports such as Chiwan and Shekou. Those ports are not nearly as busy as ports in the eastern region of South China such as Yantian and Hong Kong.
It is uncertain how effective truckers could be in taking their protests to the larger ports because they are not an organized group. There are thousands of independent truckers in China, somewhat analogous to the owner-operators that serve U.S. container ports.
As an example of what an organized protest can accomplish, workers at Honda Motor company’s plant in China earlier this week shut down the facility and disrupted its supply chain. The Honda workers were demanding higher wages.
In the harbor trucking sector, cargo interests normally pay truckers for their services. Depending upon the terms of shipment, either the Chinese manufacturer or the U.S. importer is responsible for paying the trucking charges.
The drivers who blocked the road in western Shenzhen indicated they could no longer earn a living under the current harbor trucking rates. Some acts of violence occurred, such as protestors throwing bricks at trucks, Ahern said.
--Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.