After Delhi and Bengaluru, now drivers associated with cab aggregators Ola and Uber have started a two-day strike in Chennai. As per an ET report, the drivers are protesting against falling incentives, stiff performance targets, and “exploitation of labour” by the two companies.
The strike in the city was announced from the Centre for Indian Trade Unions and follows a 13-point demand list put forth by the drivers. It includes changed tariff rates, as mandated by the state government, suspension of oversupply of vehicles by the two companies and other performance parameters that, as per the drivers, have hitherto been unaddressed.
As per the ET report, the drivers want fares to be fixed at INR 100 for four km and INR 17 for every additional kilometre thereafter. If their demands go unheard, the drivers also plan to picket the state transport commissioner’s office on Wednesday, March 8.
An email sent to Uber and Ola did not elicit a response at the time of publication.
Ola and Uber drivers have been essentially protesting against the reduced incentives by the companies. Initially, in order to boost their position as market leaders, both the companies offered lucrative incentives and bonuses to the drivers. But then in an attempt to outdo each other and gain customers, both the companies reduced fares to as low as INR 3/km from the previous rate of INR 18/km – that has led the drivers being strained for the same sorts of incentives.
In January 2017, UberPOOL and Ola Share services were deemed illegal in Karnataka. Following that, on February 10, 2017, the Sarvodaya Driver Association of Delhi called for a strike. The drivers were demanding better perks, accident insurance, to be paid as per government sanctioned fare i.e. INR 21/km, among other things. At the same time, driver protests in Bengaluru took a violent turn, when a few protesters vandalised the Uber office.
To this end, the court intervened and asked the protesters to restrain from disrupting the everyday activities of the cab aggregators and to stop instigating partners to join the protests. The court order restrained union workers from stopping Uber drivers, vandalising cabs, or hampering them. It also restrained them from protesting within 500 metres of the company’s offices in Delhi and Gurugram.
The matter was resolved after the Police intervened in the matter. After 13 days of protests, the strike was finally called off in Delhi on February 27, 2017. In November 2016, the drivers also started a 36-hour strike in Guwahati protesting against the revised incentives.