Chinese regulators ask Didi and Meituan to improve employee conditions

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Didi Chuxing updates

Chinese regulators have instructed ride-hailing groups, including Didi Chuxing, to formulate plans to completely reform their treatment of consumers and workers within four months, as the pressure on the technology industry has increased due to the intensification of crackdowns.

The Ministry of Transport said in a statement on Thursday that it had convened representatives of 11 of the country’s largest online ride-hailing platforms, including the food delivery group Didi. Meituan And Cao Cao, a subsidiary of the automaker Geely, warned these companies about issues such as unfair competition, data security, and illegal labor.

The regulator asked these companies to investigate their business practices immediately at a meeting on Wednesday Improve compliance And put forward a detailed “rectification” plan before the end of the year.

The latest warning comes after a series of recent regulatory crackdowns and Intervene Has entangled many of China’s largest technology companies and their founders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated in recent weeks that he will provide “Common prosperity“, explained by experts as not only the redistribution of wealth, but also the improvement of the rights of workers and consumers.

Didi, China’s largest online ride-hailing group, is working separately An unprecedented survey​​ Enter its data security. The investigation was launched a few days after a $4.4 billion initial public offering in New York in June. Erase billions The value of the dollar.

At the same time, Beijing-based food delivery group Meituan is waiting for the second time in China’s history. Antitrust investigation. Alibaba, an e-commerce company founded by Jack Ma, and the first subject of such an investigation, was submitted for a record Fined $2.8 billion In April, due to abuse of its dominant market position.

According to the Ministry of Transport, these companies stated that they will immediately comply with the rectification order. The two companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China’s Supreme Court and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security targeted workers’ rights last week and outlawed The controversial “996” overtime policy, Many employees in the science and technology department work six days a week, from 9 am to 9 pm.

According to people familiar with the matter, in response to escalating regulatory scrutiny, companies including Didi and Meituan have begun allowing labor unions in recent weeks.

Although labor groups will have ties to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which have ties to the government, experts say that their establishment may herald Progress in labor rights in China.

Jenny Chen, a professor of sociology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said that although China’s technology giants will “feel the heat” to make rapid improvements, labor protection remains ambiguous.

“For their corporate image and profitability, senior management promised to protect labor rights. However, we all know that from day one, these companies outsource or crowdsource frontline employees, and these employees are not recognized as employees,” Chen said.

She added that if organized workers can engage in collective bargaining with Internet companies, the tentative measures that are allowed for unions could mark a “major breakthrough.”

“But, during or after negotiations, will union leaders be protected? The key issue is still the power of workers, which is severely restricted by the state and government. [companies]. “

But the alleged detention of a mainland Chinese doctoral student studying Chinese labor activism at the University of Hong Kong may raise doubts about the seriousness of Beijing’s handling of labor reforms.

According to a man who claimed to be the father of the student, he posted on social media on Wednesday that Fang Ran was detained by security personnel in the southern Chinese city of Nanning last month.

“The university is aware of this matter and is actively investigating it. We will provide assistance to Mr. Fang and his family where appropriate,” said the University of Hong Kong.

Additional reporting by Liu Nian in Beijing and Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong

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