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Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Mumbai Uber, Ola drivers call for strike over falling income, rise in suicides

04 December, 2017

Drivers and car partners of app-based taxi aggregators Uber and Ola in Mumbai have called for an indefinite strike to voice their grievances against declining earnings, deteriorating business experience and increasing concerns over driver suicides.

The strike is scheduled to begin on 10 December, according to pamphlets being distributed among Uber and Ola drivers and car owners. VCCircle has a copy of the pamphlet and has verified its authenticity.

The aggrieved parties have complained that the cab aggregators have been providing customers with attractive schemes, but have not given benefits to their driver partners. This, they claim, has resulted in a fall in earnings and have put them under financial stress.

“As Ola and Uber partners, we will have to fight for our own rights because we are unable to fulfil the higher ride requirements (set by the cab aggregators),” read the pamphlet.

About 50% of the cars operating in the city are at risk of being seized by banks and other financial institutions, as most drivers are not being able to service their debts, which may result in loans defaults, the pamphlet claimed.

It further said that if the demands for better remuneration and improved working conditions are not met, the drivers will go on a hunger strike from 12 December before the respective Ola and Uber offices in Andheri.

According to Samir Ingale, a partner leading the strike in Mumbai, a few drivers took their own lives recently. For instance, Deepak Chaurasia, an Uber driver operating in Navi Mumbai, hanged himself two months ago after failing to pay the equated monthly instalment of his auto loan.

Similarly, two others, Ramprasad Kanojia and Deepak Palande, also took their own lives due to the financial stress, said Ingale, adding that most driver partners are not being able to break even or meet the expenses.

Two driver partners also confirmed the suicides, but did not want to be named. However, VCCircle could not independently verify the claims and whether the drivers were working with the cab aggregators.

Email queries to both Ola and Uber remained unanswered till the time of publishing this report.

Ingale said that Ola and Uber drivers in Mumbai had called for a flash strike three months ago, but it did not achieve the desired results. “This time, we have called for an indefinite strike. We will also go for a hunger strike if our demands are not met. About 450-500 people have joined us as on Friday (1 December) and the number will only increase as the strike day comes closer.”

Both Ola and Uber have been struggling to contain rising unrests, while drivers have claimed that the companies have largely been apathetic to their concerns. There were several instance of driver protests across many states and cities, including Bengaluru, Mysore, Kochi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Guwahati and Delhi-NCR, over the past two years. The protests were mostly organised by driver unions and associations.

The drivers alleged that their incomes have reduced drastically with the taxi-hailing firms continuing to acquire more cabs, while restructuring the incentive schemes.

“Our demands should be fulfilled because our earnings have dropped. Their commitment of Rs 75,000 per month in earnings proved to be fake. We are earning Rs 10,000-15,000. I cannot even pay my EMIs. They should immediately stop getting cars,” a driver was quoted by ANI during a protest earlier this year in Hyderbad.

According to a report by research and advisory firm RedSeer Consulting, Ola and Uber are marching towards sustainability as they have been able to cut down on costs and bring down driver incentives significantly.

The report, which analysed trends in the Indian consumer internet market, said the incentive structure of cab aggregators fell from 75% of gross booking value in March 2016 to 25% in June 2017.

RedSeer said that even with a considerable reduction in incentives, the monthly take-home income of drivers (after EMI and other related expenses) was about Rs 18,000, which it claimed was about 50% higher than what they would earn in the offline taxi space.

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Krishna . 7 months ago

Yes this is true the income is even lesser than 12000 per month, in uber, three months back my vehicle was seized and I am still unemployed, I feel very sad for the uber drivers death in mumbai my deep condolences from Krishna chennai.

Eliyas . 7 months ago

Same problem from Karnataka (Bangalore) this company frod to drivers no surge no boost no incentive

Adya . 7 months ago

Nice work i will be there to join strike

NisheT vaisH . 7 months ago

Yes it is ture that Uber service be come pathetic as they are saying do (whatever you want) as they have monopoly.
No one is listening our problems,Uber himself earning properly but what about partners.
No boost no proper incentives and not even providing proper business.it is huge concern.they have to improve their services and incentives.we are really hopeless now what to do or not.
I am already invested lots of money in Uber business,as I am feeling cheated from Uber.
Please look into it and find the win win situation.


NisheT VaisH

Lalsingh . 7 months ago

I totally agree with the article, as I am also driving cab in pune for uber, and nowadays our income going down day by day, no incentives, all fake surge and boost, low fare, wrong navigation. When asked for adjustments, uber says that we are not following their navigation and policy, which they are changing without any notice, how to survive, cause these companies and as well as riders doesn’t have any respect and value towards the driver partners, uber has kept bouncers in the office. If going to office for any resolution they directly say that no resolution, you do business according to our conditions otherwise leave or we will call bouncer. This the way how private companies treat to the service provider (driver partners) to public.

Manas Rath . 7 months ago

True that every Ola and Uber driver I speak with (atleast 8-10 a month across India) complains that earnings aren’t what they used to be, but all say they still take home 15,000-25,000 after fuel and EMI, which is what they would make as a private driver or comparable job. Some would happy trade for a private job but are stuck with car loan. This is why not every person should or can be a “micro-entrepreneur”, as the financial inclusion sector and government would like us to believe. But certainly doesn’t seem as sure as these “spokespeople” claim.

Are the strikes politically motivated or black-and-yellow taxi /rickshaw unions behind this? Or are some drivers just trying to test what they can extract? Hope we don’t repeat a microfinance fiasco to the detriment of all!!

Ola and Uber also need to be more thoughtful about ramifications of their actions. Can’t be a cowboy when you deal with livelihoods of the poor. Ecommerce attitudes don’t apply.

Sudhir mulani . 7 months ago

Both ola uber company’s are cheating with drivers partners they show us 1.5 surge but you will not get the correct amount surge means 50% extra but you will get normal fare both are cheating drivers partners more than cab drivers partners rickshaw drivers are happy because they earn Rs 1000 to Rs 1200 in one shift by cutting all their expenditure they take home Rs 600 to Rs 700 per day low investment low emi but they are happy now we can’t do anything because we have kept faith on these both company’s but both company’s are cheating drivers partners only their coustmers are happy because coustmers get their cabs at their doorstep both these companies think of their coustmers not of drivers partners if coustmer is wrong both companies say coustmer is not wrong because both listens of coustmers not of drivers partners then both companies terminated drivers partners cabs or they don’t give him trips both companies says trips are given by system but system is also made human not by God each and every drivers partners are not happy but now we given our both hands to these fraud companies government is also with them because both companies have filed the case in court because they know that in India each and every cases takes years for decision in that some drivers do suicide or some drivers partners sell their cabs in very low price only both company’s are happy because both company’s get their commission which is 25% uber gives drivers partners money in their account after nine days uber is using our money for nine days why if uber dose not wait for his commission then why drivers partners wait for their money ola gives daily money to drivers partners every day in their account using our money both company’s are happy

Mumbai Uber, Ola drivers call for strike over falling income, rise in suicides

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