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Uber engaging with drivers ahead of planned strike

Rising fuel prices are piling the pressure on e-hailing drivers working for Uber, Bolt, DiDi and other apps. File photo.
Rising fuel prices are piling the pressure on e-hailing drivers working for Uber, Bolt, DiDi and other apps. File photo.
Image: SMITH COLLECTION/GADO/GETTY IMAGES

Uber says it takes the concerns of its drivers seriously ahead of a planned strike by thousands of e-hailing operators across SA over work conditions.

The national strike by e-hailing drivers who work for Uber, Bolt, DiDi and other driving apps is set to start on March 22 and end two days later, depending on whether the drivers’ demands are met.   

Uber’s head of mobility operations for sub-Saharan Africa, Kagiso Khaole, said the company was actively engaging with its drivers on issues that affected their income.

“Our commitment to them is to continuously find ways to maximise their earning potential, while meeting the needs of riders.

“There are several economic factors, including fuel price increases, which impact the cost of moving people and goods.

“Our goal is to maintain a holistic view on these inflationary pressures to ensure that the platform remains economically viable for drivers and delivery people,” Khaole said.

Speaking with one voice, e-hailing drivers who vowed to support the shutdown said they often felt exploited.

They said “ridiculously low” fares per ride, as prescribed by the app, were making it hard for them to make ends meet, especially in light of the recent fuel price hike.

Fuel prices hit record highs on Wednesday, with petrol costing more than R21 a litre for the first time. Along the coast, unleaded fuel rose to R20.88 a litre.

Besides the rising fuel prices, data costs, car maintenance, robberies and a high commission structure, alleged harassment by road traffic officials and minibus taxi drivers added to the drivers’ woes.

The e-hailing drivers are also against the starting base fare of R21 a trip.

“Fare prices remained the same while all of the other variables have gone up,” one of the organisers of the planned protest said.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, e-hailing drivers all said they would participate in the shutdown.

The drivers in the metro bore the brunt of violence and intimidation on the city’s roads in 2020, in what seemed to be a turf war started against them by certain minibus taxi drivers.

Numerous criminal complaints were lodged with the police.  

HeraldLIVE

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