Ola, Uber drivers go on partial strike

Taxis parked at Freedom Park, Bengaluru, as drivers and owners take part in the indefinite strike on Monday.

Taxis parked at Freedom Park, Bengaluru, as drivers and owners take part in the indefinite strike on Monday.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

It was a chaotic Monday for hundreds of commuters in the city as app-based taxis were not easily available through the day. The reason? Cab drivers, who have signed up with some of the top aggregators, had called for an indefinite strike.

Across the city, there were reports of discontent among drivers, while commuters were left stranded. There were many instances of drivers stopping their co-workers from ferrying passengers. “My driver was talking about the strike on the phone with a friend. Suddenly, he asked me to get down at Indiranagar 100 feet road about 4 km away from my drop point. He was not aggressive, but said that he had to participate in the protest,” said Rishi Chaudhary, a resident of Fraser Town.

Several commuters faced the same experience on Sunday evening and Monday. “My cab driver said they would stop other drivers as well and convince them to join the protest. However, he agreed to drop me since it was late in the night,” said Sharadha N., a resident of J.P. Nagar.

Trouble since Dec.

Trouble has been brewing for Ola and Uber, two of the largest cab hailing apps in the city, since last December. Drivers allege that commissions per ride — to be paid to the aggregator — were around 10% a year ago. It has been hiked to 30% in the recent past.

On Monday morning, hundreds of drivers gathered at Freedom Park and at the Kempegowda International Airport. Many protesting drivers even resorted to booking cabs through the app and forcing the arriving drivers to join them in the strike.

Earlier, the drivers — unhappy with flat fares for airport rides — had resolved to stop driving for these companies on December 30 and 31. However, they then chose to delay their strike hoping for a dialogue with the companies. “They are making us run around in circles. One day they ask us to register our demands individually, the next day they say we must form a group. No one has approached us to even hear what we have to say. Now they are threatening police action against striking drivers. But we don’t intend to stop,” said Tanveer, a co-ordinator for Ola-TaxiForSure-Uber (OTU) Drivers’ and Owners’ Union.

The situation may continue on Tuesday as a meeting between stakeholders is unlikely. The Transport Department is likely to call for a meeting of representatives of the companies and the drivers along with Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy this week.

Meanwhile, an Uber spokesperson said: “We strive to be a mobility option for everyone in Bengaluru and we regret the disruption caused to our rider and driver community by a small group of individuals. We remain committed to serving the city, ensuring driver partners can continue to access a stable income, while giving riders a convenient, reliable option to get around their city.”

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 4:25:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/Ola-Uber-drivers-go-on-partial-strike/article17083308.ece

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