For the last eight days, more than 40,000 drivers, registered with the app-based cabs like Ola and Uber, have been off roads, to demand increased earnings and better working life. On Monday, they marched from Uber’s Kurla office to Ola’s office in Andheri using black flags to express their concerns. As this forms their third protest in 2018, which has sustained for a longer time than any of the previous protests, here is a look at their demands
Why are the app-based cab drivers protesting?
The drivers complain that they are unable to make as much business in terms of the number of daily trips and earnings since November 2017. The drivers blame that as cab companies manipulate the booking of mobile application, which allocates more trips to their owned cabs and drivers, they end up making less business. From savings of Rs 50,000-60,000 earlier, drivers claim they hardly save up to Rs 2,000 now, which is not enough to meet their daily expenses.
Due to reduced earnings, they face difficulties in paying monthly installments of car loans, fuel prices and maintenance cost of cars. After deducting a commission of 20 per cent and other additional taxes from a journey fare, the driver encashes the remaining amount. But the drivers complain that cab companies have haphazardly reduced their share of income from the journey fare without a valid reason. Unhealthy professional life, which includes working hours of over 18 hours a day to earn incentives, blacklisting of drivers by companies and slashing their income on the basis of customer complaints, have also irked the drivers.
What are their demands?
Drivers demand that they must be able to make business of Rs 15,000 every day, wherein cab companies do not manipulate with cab booking. To ensure they get adequate business, both Regional Transport Offices and cab companies should put a maximum cap on the number of tourist cabs on the road, which has crossed a lakh in Mumbai.
Drivers also demand that companies must share the maintenance cost of their cars and fairly question the drivers before blacklisting them for any cause. Increasing their base minimum fares from Rs 4 per kilometre to Rs 18-23 (depending upon the type of cab they are driving) also remains their demand. They further demand a base rate of Rs 100-150 for each of their rides, which would allow each driver to encash the amount upon the overall journey fare, irrespective of the distance and time of journey.
How have cab companies reacted to their demands?
While cab companies, including Ola and Uber, have held repeated discussions with drivers on the issue, no specific assurance has been made to them. The cab companies have maintained that they currently have more than two lakh active driver partners in their service and are seeing more and more sign-ups every day.
As the nature of the mobile-based cab service remains entrepreneurial, Uber has stated that they see more than 80 per cent drivers remain online at work for eight hours a day making between Rs 1,500- Rs 2,500 (net) on a daily basis. Companies have denied giving preferential dispatches to any car for bookings. Cab companies have promised to offer drivers stable earning opportunities and take care of their other monetary interventions, including financial and health insurances.
What is the stand of the state government on the issue?
The state government has drafted a Maharashtra City Taxi scheme, 2016 to regulate the movement of app-based cabs like Ola and Uber in the city. The scheme includes regulating the number of cabs they can operate in the city, colour, type of fuel and brings a cap on their minimum and maximum fares. After Ola and Uber drivers challenged the scheme in the Bombay High Court last year, the matter remains sub judice.