Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Rickshaw Revolt

24 May 1902
Rickshaw in Hanoi, 19th century

An American entrepreneur proposed to import several hundred rickshaws in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, in 1902. The apparent absence of rickshaws in Manila was a point of contrast when early 20th century Westerners compared the city to its Asian counterparts.  Opposition to the rickshaw plan came from two different fronts in Manila: Filipino labour groups and Chinese coolies. A Filipino transport workers section was established within the trade union federation Union Obrera Democratica. It released a statement entitled Filipinos are not beasts and said they were not willling to become the slaves of foreigners. The Chinese community in Manila posted placards with a 'friendly warning' to coolies not to be draught animals for foreigners. In spite of these problems, 20 rickshaws went out on the street on 24 May 1902. American customers were the main clientele. But within the next few days, the rickshaw business found itself already crumbling. On its second day, no puller reported for work, and the following day, only one did so.

Read more: Michael D. Pante, 'Rickshaws and Labour in Transport: Histories from the Global South, c 1750-1950. Special issue 22 International Review of Social History, 2014