Higher earning, early call for second strike: Why the Ola-Uber protest failed in Delhi | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Higher earning, early call for second strike: Why the Ola-Uber protest failed in Delhi

A softness of sorts has set in among the drivers also because of the small gestures shown by Ola and Uber. The companies surely have learnt their lessons after the backlash from drivers.

delhi Updated: Apr 23, 2017 18:38 IST
Sweta Goswami
A number of Ola and Uber drivers that Hindustan Times spoke to said even if the money is just enough to survive, they are “better off” than their previous jobs.
A number of Ola and Uber drivers that Hindustan Times spoke to said even if the money is just enough to survive, they are “better off” than their previous jobs.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

What worked for two weeks in February fizzed out even before starting on Tuesday. The re-run of the Ola-Uber strike hit a brick wall of sorts as the drivers this time prioritized their pending EMIs over a collective protest call.

Two months ago, Pradip Rawat, an Ola driver, lost out on earning nearly Rs 30,000 when he chose to join the strike organised by Ola-Uber drivers’ union Sarvodaya Drivers Association of Delhi (SDAD). The protest, he claims, did not increase a rupee in his daily cab earning, but rather stressed him out with a month of unpaid car installment.

“My earnings have just begun to get normal after that strike and in no way can I disturb that by joining in today’s (Tuesday’s) protest. I have to feed a family of five and pay for loans. Not working even for a day means losing out on Rs 1,500 at least,” he said.

With no robust public transport system, the strike that happened in February had nearly crippled the people of Delhi-NCR which has almost 1.5 lakh of these cars plying on the roads.

Earning through Ola-Uber is addictive

A number of drivers Hindustan Times spoke to said even if the money is just enough to survive, they are “better off” than their previous jobs.

“We are being exploited by the cab aggregators as we are working 16-20 hours a day. But, the kaali-peeli taxi that I used to drive before getting into this job didn’t used to give me even Rs 30,000 a month at times. Now I earn anywhere between Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000,” said Mohammad Ajmal, a driver who shifts between Ola and Uber.

Besides, the fire over decreasing ‘incentives’ seems to have been doused with cab aggregators changing the pattern of the drivers’ earning. While earlier, it used to give bonuses on the number of rides clocked within a given period, the same during the February strike was changed to the total daily operational bill of the driver.

Companies showing care for drivers

A softness of sorts has set in among the drivers also because of the small gestures shown by Ola and Uber. The companies surely have learnt their lessons after the backlash from drivers.

Sources said since February Ola has begun to give awards to drivers for achieving various milestones. “Anybody who gets five-star rating from a commuter or has been really well behaved etc are especially being called to Ola’s office and are being awarded,” said a source in Ola.

They are attempting to make them feel more dignified and cared for with such new ideas.

Too small a gap

Tuesday’s flop protest has made the SDAD and two other unions, who joined them, wonder about what went wrong.

“Our drivers suffered a lot on the financial front. We should have let a few more months pass and then renew the movement. This was probably too soon and impromptu,” said Ravi Rathod of SDAD.

Many drivers like Krishan Dev were not even aware of the protest this time. “I got to know about it in the afternoon. Last time we had got messages and pamphlets were distributed,” Dev said.