Saturday, 7 July 2018

SOUTH AFRICA: Taxify And Uber Drivers Dissapointed And Continue With Strike

The drivers’ most outspoken protest leaders say they are being treated like slaves.

The ongoing unhappiness of many Uber and Taxify drivers continues, with a new statement calling for an intensification of protest.

Thabiso Sithole and Vhatuka Mbelengwa said that after they handed over their memorandum on Tuesday, Uber allegedly blocked some of the protesting drivers.

Sithole and Mbelengwa now describe Uber as a global anarchist that disrespects South African law.

They have organised a further march to get their drivers unblocked, and started gathering on Friday morning.

Drivers have become increasingly disenchanted with what they claim to be the ride-hailing companies’ push for profits at their expense.

Despite the fact that petrol prices have increased, the companies have allegedly not increased tariffs and drivers allege they’re increasingly getting a smaller share of what passengers pay. The companies allegedly take at least 25 percent.

Uber and Taxify drivers were at Zoo Lake on Tuesday morning to begin a strike organised by the eHailing Association of South Africa (Ehasa) alongside a group calling themselves the General Task Team (GTT).

Other grievances include the two company’s admission of too many new drivers and safety concerns.

Mbelengwa, who claims to be a spokesperson for GTT, says one of the main aims of the strike is to get the two companies to stop accepting new drivers.

What is known as the onboarding of new drivers in the industry has severe consequences for existing drivers, according to Mbelengwa.

We’re looking at an initial spend on a vehicle of R300 000 and we want the maximum return on our investment of assets as is.

The continual adding of new drivers means that to compete, we need to run so many trips that our vehicle depreciates to the point that we can’t get that return.

This also compromises vehicle safety, which in turn compromises rider safety and forces us to perform excessive maintenance on the vehicle.

When approached for comment about the strike on Monday, specifically about allegations that they refuse to adapt prices to rising fuel costs, Uber sent a generic statement explaining why this is the case.

We respect driver-partners as valuable partners with a voice and a choice and we want driver-partners to feel they can talk to us about anything at any time, read the statement.

We constantly monitor fares and examine consumer price sensitivities to ensure fares are correctly priced so that riders continue to take trips and drivers have access to more fare paying passengers.

If fares were to increase, then riders may take fewer trips which will ultimately lead to lower earnings,” the statement continued.

Mbelengwa said they completely rejected the company’s explanation.

Uber must stop calling us partners when they don’t consult with us. Who have they consulted with? he asked.

Despite protests from some drivers, it has remained possible to use both ride-hailing apps and their services.

Tourism Observer

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