Driver partners associated with online taxi-hailing companies Ola and Uber are calling for an indefinite strike in Mumbai on December 10. The drivers were protesting against falling incomes and driver suicides, reports VCCircle. The publication said that pamphlets were circulated for the strike and said that they would carry out the protest at their offices in Andheri.
The call for protest comes in the backdrop of the Maharashtra government saying it will fix both minimum and maximum fares for app-based taxi companies during the winter session of the state’s legislative assembly.
VCCircle added that there was concern among the drivers as three drivers committed suicide as they were unable to pay EMIs for their cars. Meanwhile, leaders in the protest said that 500-450 have confirmed participation in the protest. MediaNama has written to Ola and Uber and will update once we hear from them.
Over past year, there have been numerous protests across the country and both Ola and Uber have tweaked their incentive plans which led to reduced incomes. MediaNama reported that drivers were are not able to make their ends meet or pay EMIs for their car loans. In February, we saw the first instance where an Ola driver tried to kill himself by consuming poison in a strike in Bangalore. Ola and Uber encourage drivers to buy cars on loan. Many drivers bought cars as they were lured by higher incomes the companies offered in 2015 and 2016 when the companies were starting their operations.
Drivers MediaNama spoke to said that in 2016 and 2015, they had monthly earnings of Rs 85,000 and Rs 70,000. Now their earnings have fallen to around Rs 51,000. The driver recordings and interviews show that drivers are now earning around Rs 1,700 per day and they say that this barely covers the cost of fuel and servicing of their cars. If a driver earns Rs 1700 a day for 30 days, his income is Rs 51,000. Their monthly loan EMI ranges between Rs 11,000 to Rs 16,000. Their car maintenance and fuel set them back by at least Rs 500 to Rs 700 each day. Even taking Rs 500 as an average, their monthly expenditure for this comes to Rs 15,000. Drivers say that the cab aggregators take a cut of almost 30% (20% commission plus taxes including VAT) on Rs 1700 which comes to Rs 340 each day.